State of the State offers no surprises

With the support of Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, Governor Kristi Noem started her State of the State address by praising the state, its work and living environment, and what was accomplished last year.

In front of the state’s Representatives and Senators, and guests, media and other members of the public, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem presented her State of the State address, Jan. 14.

Stressing that the state lives within its means, Noem made a point that South Dakota is THE place to do business. She plans on continued building of internet connectivity, for homes, schools and businesses. Revenues, despite last year’s hard weather, have been slightly better than expected. With this, Noem’s priority is to provide increases to K-12 schools, to healthcare providers, and to state employees.

As always, South Dakota must continue to grow its economy. One way is through tourism. Another is cyber-security, which, with matching funds, can lead university students to high-paying jobs. Agriculture can be strengthened through precision agriculture, production agriculture and value-added agriculture — and these include bioprocessing. Hunting can continue to be a major economic booster, especially if getting licenses is made easier and wildlife predators are diminished in numbers.

On each topic, Noem interspersed stories into her speech of successes of individuals, families and businesses.

Then, Noem broached the industrial hemp issue, which after much turmoil she vetoed last session. One of her speech’s strongest statements was, “Everybody knows that I don’t think it’s a good idea.” She then reiterate her recent ‘guardrails’ that must be successfully addressed before she would sign any hemp legislation.

Noem intertwined university and technical courses with filling job vacancies, stating that this must continue on a greater level.

Hampering education and jobs, the economy, and the lives of almost everyone, is the bane of drugs and drug addiction. Noem stressed that each ‘data point’ is also a human being. Law enforcement is working to help the situation, not exasperate it. Illustrating the importance of the men and women who are in law enforcement, Noem pointed out the heroes who have risked their lives to save others. She also praised Chief Justice David Gilbertson, who has been a driving force in implementing Drug Courts and Alcohol Courts. Gilbertson will retire before the 2001 legislative session.

Immediately after the State of the State address, Representative Jamie Smith (D-District 15), House Minority Leader, discussed the speech. “We are starting at a place where she would like. But, we need to keep communications open. Yes, it is a great business climate, especially for young business entrepreneurs. Yes, cyber-security can lead to high-paying jobs. Students hold a huge part of the economy; often earning high-class education and then they leave the state, thus not benefiting South Dakota.”

Smith continued, “We disagree on some major issues, you bet, but we are working for the same goals. These aren’t Republican or Democrat, but are important for all of South Dakota.”

“I was happy to hear the success of our collaborative efforts with Indian Health Services and her desire to help tribes with infrastructure,” said Representative Shawn Bordeaux (D-District 26A, Mission; director of the Institute of Tribal Lands). “But, I was hoping she might take on our biggest problem we have in Indian Country — poverty. If we had help from the state, we could develop our economies through tourism efforts, along with agriculture, developing hunting lodges and providing world-class hunting in our most destitute areas of the state.”

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