PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced today the authentication of historical documents proving North Dakota and South Dakota are actually one state. Overlooked addendums to the statehood proclamations of both states indicate the existence of a single state, “Dakota.”

“It’s the most incredible discovery; this raises a number of interesting questions,” said Gov. Daugaard, of the State Formerly Known as South Dakota. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get this squared away, that’s clear.”

President Abraham Lincoln established Dakota Territory in 1861. Prior to the recent discovery, it was believed that the territory was divided into the states of North Dakota and South Dakota on Nov. 2, 1889, via a proclamation signed by then-President Benjamin Harrison.

A pair of historians conducting archival research in the Library of Congress uncovered identical addendums attached to both statehood proclamations that rescind the previously signed orders and establish a single, united state.

The addendum reads, in part, “I hereby affirm the creation of the state of Dakota; they were born together – they are one.”

Gov. Daugaard is undertaking a comprehensive process to determine how to proceed. He indicates that a special joint session of both state legislatures may be needed to determine whether to stay as Dakota, or return to their previous status as separate states.

AG Jackley asks Congress to Improve States’ Ability to Combat Abuse and Neglect of Medicaid Patients

PIERRE, S.D.- Attorney General Marty Jackley joined a bipartisan group of 48 other state and territory Attorneys General today and asked Congress to ease federal restrictions that limit states’ ability to investigate and prosecute the abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries.

“It is important that we protect against neglect and abuse,” Jackley said. “We are fortunate that the vast majority of caregivers in South Dakota provide high quality health care, and we will continue to work with our partners and our caregivers to ensure that our citizens receive the highest level of care in both home and facility settings.”

The coalition of Attorneys General today sent a letter to U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., in support of their legislation, H.R. 3891, which would expand the authority of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) to detect, investigate and prosecute Medicaid patient abuse in non-institutional settings.

The legislation came after a similar group of 38 Attorneys General wrote to then-U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price in May 2017, asking for changes in federal regulations to give the states this expanded authority. However, the Department concluded that the expanded authority would require a change in federal law that could not be done through the regulatory process. The bill, introduced by Walberg and Welch, was in direct response to the letter from the Attorneys General and subsequent response from the Department.

If enacted, the legislation would allow state MFCUs, most of which are housed within state Attorney General’s offices, to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries in non-institutional settings and broaden their authority to screen complaints or reports alleging potential abuse or neglect. Under current law, MFCUs may investigate and prosecute patient abuse and neglect only if it occurs in a health care facility or, in some circumstances, in a board and care facility. That means other cases of abuse and neglect of Medicaid patients – such as in a home health care setting – fall outside the unit’s authority.

The Attorneys General also stressed to the lawmakers the importance of expanding this authority in light of the national opioid epidemic. The bill would, for example, give states the authority to investigate and prosecute cases of unlawful opioid distribution to Medicaid beneficiaries, which under current law they may only do if the case occurred within a health care facility or a board and care facility.

Gov. Daugaard Signs Open Waters Compromise Sunset Repeal; Also Signs Other Bills Into Law

2018 Legislative Accomplishments

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

As I write this, the South Dakota State Legislature is concluding the main run of its legislative session.  This has been a productive year in Pierre, and I think South Dakotans can be proud of what has been accomplished.

Most importantly, our state continued its streak, going back to statehood, of a balanced budget.  Our budget is honestly balanced.  We used ongoing revenue streams to fund ongoing expenses, and one-time revenues only for one-time purposes.  We do not rely on accounting tricks.  We maintain a budget reserve fund equal to ten percent of expenditures.  It is for this reason that our state has earned and maintained a AAA bond rating, which speaks to our fiscal strength.

When I proposed a state budget in December, revenue growth was very slow.  For that reason, I was not able to propose inflationary increases for education, Medicaid providers, or state employee salaries.  Fortunately, our state’s economy has ticked upward in the last three months, so the state budget we passed will include increases for all of those recipients.  We were also able to allocate dollars to the state employee health plan, to keep employee costs as low as possible.

The budget also includes funding to continue the dual credit program for high school students, to contribute toward a new Precision Ag facility at SDSU and a health education building at Lake Area Tech, and to construct a state veterans cemetery near Sioux Falls.  The Building South Dakota economic development also received a reliable, long-term revenue source.

This year, the legislature passed numerous bills to modernize our state’s alcohol industry.  The emerging micro-brewing industry will be able to expand and to sell their products to bars and consumers.  Farm wineries gained greater flexibility to operate as well.  For the first time in decades, the entire alcohol title was rewritten, increasing clarity and easing the regulatory burden.

We also recognized that the open waters compromise, which the legislature passed last summer in a special session, is working, and we passed legislation to make the compromise permanent.  Although access to public waters will always be an issue, after twenty years we have finally brought certainty and found an answer that is working for landowners and sportsmen.

Bills were also brought to strengthen our ties to our tribes.  Legislation was passed allowing tribal governments to extradite their members back from county jails, if they choose.  We also passed legislation recognizing the right of tribal members to wear traditional regalia, such as an eagle feather, at high school graduations.

Significantly, every single accomplishment I have mentioned was passed on a bipartisan basis.  With the partisan gridlock in Washington, South Dakotans can be proud that our legislature takes on big issues in a practical, bipartisan fashion.

I first came to Pierre for the legislative session in 1997 when I was first elected a state senator.  I spent six years as a senator, eight years as lieutenant governor, and now eight years as governor.  Over those twenty-two sessions, I have served with hundreds of good people – men and women, Republicans and Democrats, farmers, teachers, nurses and attorneys.

South Dakota’s legislators are not career politicians.  They come to Pierre for a few weeks to serve their friends and neighbors, and then they return home to live amongst the people they serve.  In the coming days, if you happen to see one of your legislators, please say thank you for a job well done.​


Gov. Daugaard Signs Open Waters Compromise Sunset Repeal; Also Signs Other Bills Into Law

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed House Bill 1081 today, repealing the sunset clause regarding the recreational use of nonmeandered water. Gov. Daugaard also signed the following bills:

SB 97 – provide a special motor vehicle license plate for certain women veterans.

SB 140 – revise provisions regarding an objection to a custody or visitation order.

SB 144 – revise certain provisions related to party affiliation on voter registration cards.

SB 148 – revise the list of organizations that may approve and accredit a nonpublic school.

SB 164 – prohibit certain instances of inserting a urinary catheter without consent of the patient.

SB 165 – revise certain provisions regarding child custody and visitation and the enforcement of those provisions.

SB 169 – revise certain provisions regarding confections that contain alcohol and to declare an emergency.

SB 212 – revise certain provisions regarding the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications assistance to schools.

HB 1007 – require any initiated measure to embrace only one subject.

HB 1054 – revise certain provisions regarding crimes that are considered violent for parole calculation purposes.

HB 1083 – revise certain provisions regarding permits to carry a concealed pistol and to declare an emergency.

HB 1104 – revise certain provisions regarding the arrest of certain victims of domestic abuse.

HB 1106 – authorize hunting preference points to be granted to persons age ten years or older.

HB 1110 – increase the penalty for certain subsequent convictions of hiring for sexual activity or promoting prostitution.

HB 1121 – revise the fees for certain on-sale and off-sale retail liquor licenses.

HB 1155 – create provisions regarding the language development of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

HB 1162 – provide for the placement of a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot at a special election held at the same time as the next primary election, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

HB 1248 – revise certain provisions regarding filing and recording secured transaction records with the Office of the Secretary of State.

HB 1270 – adjust the period of time requiring the use of lighted front and rear lamps on motor vehicles.

HB 1273 – revise certain provisions regarding convention facility on-sale licenses to sell alcoholic beverages.

HB 1281 – revise certain provisions regarding persons on probation and to declare an emergency.

HB 1318 – authorize the South Dakota Health and Educational Facilities Authority to transfer or grant excess reserves to any South Dakota governmental entity.

Open Primary Elections Ballot Question Petition Rejected by Secretary of State

Secretary Shantel Krebs and Deputy Secretary of Election Services Kea Warne accepting open primary election petitions from De Knudson on November 6, 2017 

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs announced that the petition submitted for an initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution establishing open primary elections was rejected by her office.

“My staff have been working diligently to review petitions,” stated Secretary Krebs. “An Initiated Constitutional Amendment requires 27,741 valid signatures in order to be placed on the ballot. This initiated constitutional amendment petition included 37,197 signatures. We reviewed a random sample of signatures, and only 68.57 percent (37,197 x 68.57% = 25,505 valid signatures, not meeting the 27,741 signatures required) were found to be valid.”

A rejected petition cannot be challenged to the office of the Secretary of State, however that does not prohibit a citizen from challenging the rejection of a ballot question petition in circuit court.

The remaining four petitions will be reviewed by the Secretary of State’s office in the order in which they were received. The South Dakota Legislature also has the ability to include constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot and South Dakota citizens have the ability to submit a referendum petition concerning laws passed during the 2018 Legislative session.

For more detailed information on potential 2018 Ballot Questions, click here.

2-1-17.1.   Submission of affidavit challenging petition to secretary of state–Appeal. Within thirty days after a statewide petition for an initiated constitutional amendment, initiated measure, or referendum has been validated and filed, any interested person who has researched the signatures contained on the petition may submit an affidavit to the Office of Secretary of State to challenge the petition. The affidavit shall include an itemized listing of each specific deficiency in question. Any challenge to the following items is prohibited under this challenge process:

(1)      Signer does not live at address listed on the petition;

(2)      Circulator does not live at address listed on the petition;

(3)      Circulator listed a residence address in South Dakota but is not a South Dakota                                  resident:

(4)      Circulator did not witness the signers;

(5)      Signatures not included in the random sample; and

(6)      Petition that was originally rejected.

Any challenge by the same person or party in interest shall be included in one affidavit.

The original signed affidavit shall be received by the Office of Secretary of State by 5:00 p.m. central time on the deadline date. If the affidavit challenges any item that is prohibited by this section, only that line item shall summarily be rejected. A challenge to a line item is not a challenge to the petition as a whole.

The secretary of state’s decision regarding a challenge may not be challenged a second time with the secretary of state, but may be appealed to the circuit court of Hughes County. If a person fails to challenge a petition pursuant to this section, it does not deny that person any other legal remedy to challenge the filing of an initiative or referendum petition in circuit court. A challenge to a petition in circuit court may include items prohibited in this section.


Tim Bjorkman South Dakota Democratic Candidate for Congress. (submitted photo)
I grew up around guns in rural South Dakota. I am a gun owner, an occasional hunter, and a 2nd Amendment supporter. Three of our sons served in the military and are gun enthusiasts. If anyone tried to take away a gun of mine they would have to fight me for it. As a judge I saw the effects of society’s propensity toward violence, sometimes but not always involving guns. The moment calls for honest discussion about how to prevent more senseless killings, and that discussion should take place with as little rancor and partisanship as possible.

First some facts: more people have died from gun violence since 1970 than in all American wars combined. We have far more guns and gun deaths than any other nation in the world: nearly six times the per capita rate of Canada, and nearly 16 times that of Germany.

Almost 2 in 3 of the 33,500 annual gun deaths are by suicide. Of the roughly 11,000 homicides, about half the victims are young males, and some 1,700 women are killed as the result of domestic violence. The horrendous mass shootings we have experienced have totaled about 320 deaths annually over the past 5 years – around 2% of all homicides; as an aside, about six Americans die annually at the hands of Islamic terrorists. Handguns are by far the most common weapon used in killings.

While about 90% of those who take their own lives suffer from a mental disorder, it is a much less common factor in homicides. As a judge, it became clear to me that the vast percentage of our overall crime problem, including violent crime, involved people who struggle with untreated addiction, often after experiencing a dysfunctional childhood.

Just as the types and causes of gun deaths vary, so the solutions will also be different. One thing is clear: we must learn to take better care of each other and seek to adopt policies that work for the wellbeing of ordinary Americans.

Our own Congressional delegation seems to agree, pointing to the role of mental illness; yet instead of promoting better mental healthcare, the majority in Congress has employed its efforts to reduce mental health funding, and to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which, importantly, provides coverage for mental health and addiction treatment in every policy.

So, what measures are most calculated to reduce gun violence? Sadly, we have far less data on this than we should because Congress has effectively banned the Center for Disease Control [CDC] from funding research on gun violence.

I advocate these first steps:

1.      A law mandating uniform background checks on all gun sales, with free service at sheriffs’ offices for private transfers and estate transfer exemptions; and improved sharing of information among reporting sources;
2.      Prohibiting any device, such as bump stocks, that converts a semi-automatic into an automatic weapon;
3.      Prohibiting individuals on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying firearms;
4.      Encouraging states to adopt red flag laws that allow a court to temporarily remove guns from a person who poses a danger, with mandatory database reporting and removal upon clearance by a medical specialist;
5.      Promoting interventions like the Sandy Hook Promise that identify and reach out to at-risk individuals, including restorative justice and anti-bullying programs;
6.      Committing our nation to a War on Mental Illness and to ensuring every American has affordable health coverage to treat it; and
7.      Importantly, removing the ban on the CDC studying firearm violence;

I will become a target of the NRA and its enormous political action committee.  That’s okay.  The NRA, like many other special interests, tends to bully politicians, which helps explain the absence of sound reform. This is one reason I refuse to take any PAC money.

I suspect that most South Dakotans are just as sick as I am of the endless slaughter of Americans, and are also tired of special interests controlling our Congress.

Two questions lie before us: do we have the courage as a nation to defeat the powerful special interests that have thwarted reform on this and so many other issues; and what kind of America will we leave behind for our children and grandchildren?

Tim Bjorkman lives in Canistota. He is a former circuit court judge and the Democratic candidate for Congress.


Status: Pending – Senate State Affairs Committee
Date of Last Action:  1/19/2018

State of South Dakota





Introduced by: Senators Nelson, Frerichs, Heinert, Jensen (Phil), Killer, Nesiba, Russell,

Sutton, and Tapio and Representatives May, Bordeaux, Brunner, Campbell,

DiSanto, Frye-Mueller, Goodwin, Gosch, Lesmeister, Livermont, Marty, and

Peterson (Sue)

1 A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Recognizing the tribal council of the Oglala Sioux Tribe

2 in its petition to the Legislature for redress of grievances pursuant to the First Amendment

3 of the United States Constitution and Article VI § 4 of the South Dakota Constitution.

4 WHEREAS, the constitution of the Oglala Sioux Tribe authorizes the tribal council to

5 negotiate with federal, state, and local governmental officials on behalf of the Oglala Sioux

6 Tribe; and

7 WHEREAS, the Oglala Sioux Tribe education committee has been delegated oversight of

8 tribal schools and the education of tribal youth; and

9 WHEREAS, the committee met on December 18, 2017, to take action to file a petition for

10 redress of grievances with the South Dakota State Senate and House of Representatives,

11 regarding the facilitation of the mismanagement and misappropriation of tens of millions of

12 dollars of grant funds intended for Native American youth in the GEAR UP Program, and other

13 federal grant programs, administered by the South Dakota Department of Education, by current

14 and former state officials; and

100 copies were printed on recycled paper by the South Dakota

Legislative Research Council at a cost of $.167 per page. v Insertions into existing statutes are indicated by underscores.

Deletions from existing statutes are indicated by overstrikes.

– 2 – SCR 5

1 WHEREAS, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Article VI § 4 of the

2 South Dakota Constitution, and Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, guarantees South

3 Dakotans a right to petition state government for the redress of grievances; and

4 WHEREAS, on January 11, 2018, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council formally and officially

5 delivered their grievance resolution which was accepted by the State-Tribal Relations

6 Committee in the South Dakota Capitol; and

7 WHEREAS, the Oglala Sioux Tribe respectfully grieves that former South Dakota Secretary

8 of Education Melody Schopp, former South Dakota Secretary of Education Tom Oster, former

9 Secretary of Education Rick Melmer, former Meade County Superintendent Don Kirkegaard,

10 former Indian Education Director for South Dakota’s Department of Education Keith Moore,

11 Northern State Dean of Education Kelly Duncan, Department of Education Finance and

12 Management Director Tamara Darnall, and former GEAR UP Evaluator Brinda Kuhn allowed

13 or facilitated themselves to inappropriately financially benefit, at the expense of South Dakota

14 Native American youth, through unethical contracts, mismanagement, and misappropriation of

15 funds of the GEAR UP Program and other federal grants programs; and

16 WHEREAS, serious metrics or monitoring of factual measurable goals and objectives were

17 never implemented for the proper oversight of South Dakota’s GEAR UP Program; and

18 WHEREAS, explicit written warnings by former directors of Indian Education LuAnn

19 Werdell and Roger Campbell of mismanagement and misappropriations in the federal grants

20 administered by the South Dakota Department of Education, were effectively ignored and they

21 were retaliated against for their efforts; and

22 WHEREAS, the catastrophic human and financial costs associated with the unethical

23 conflicts of interests of numerous current and former state officials personally benefitting from

24 their improper financial grant programs, deprived South Dakota’s Native American youth and

– 3 – SCR 5

1 their communities of an estimated one hundred million dollars which will have lasting negative

2 effects on South Dakota Native American youth and their families for generations to come; and

3 WHEREAS, despite the statutory and moral obligation to do so, the Government Operations

4 and Audit Committee and the State-Tribal Relations Committee, refused to fully examine,

5 address, or correct these egregious violations of the public’s trust that were facilitated by state

6 officials for over a decade; and

7 WHEREAS, this dereliction of legislative oversight imparts a tacit message to those

8 responsible for the GEAR UP corruption, that effectively condones it, and assists in covering

9 up their unscrupulous behavior while reopening centuries old wounds caused by previous

10 unethical practices of government officials improperly benefitting at the expense of Native

11 Americans; and

12 WHEREAS, the South Dakota state government has experienced a serious loss of

13 confidence from South Dakotans across the state due to the GEAR UP corruption scandal and

14 has received failing grades from national groups concerning South Dakota state government’s

15 susceptibility to corruption, cronyism, and nepotism; and

16 WHEREAS, the State-Tribal Relations Committee is required by law via § 2-6-23 “ draw

17 upon public input from all those who may be concerned and knowledgeable about state-tribal

18 relations whether Indian or non-Indian, whether tribal members or nontribal members.” And

19 make legislative recommendations to facilitate its mission; and

20 WHEREAS, each member of the State-Tribal Relations Committee recommends addressing

21 the rightful grievances of the Oglala Sioux Tribe through their sponsorship of this resolution:

22 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Senate of the Ninety-Third Legislature

23 of the State of South Dakota, the House of Representatives concurring therein, acknowledging

24 the receipt of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council’s respectfully submitted petition for the redress

– 4 – SCR 5

1 of legitimate grievances; and

2 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature recommends indefinite suspension of

3 all state employment and involvement in state-administered grant programs by those current and

4 past state officials cited in this resolution, pending determination of their involvement and

5 complicity. Conclusive determination contingent upon the explicit exoneration by an

6 independent and thorough investigation into the mismanagement and misappropriations of grant

7 moneys intended for Native South Dakota youth from 2005 to 2017; and

8 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature requests the United States Attorney

9 appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute, both civilly and criminally, all current

10 and former state officials who facilitated the mismanagement, misappropriation, or unethically

11 benefitted from federal grant moneys meant for Native American youth; and

12 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature devise scholarships for eligible Native

13 American high school students to repay the estimated one hundred million dollars lost to past

14 Native American students. Funding for the scholarships to come from deductions from the

15 Department of Education’s budget for the next twelve years, and civil recoupments from those

16 responsible or negligent in the mismanagement of the affected grants.

Gov. Daugaard Signs Bills Into Law


PIERRE, S.D. –  Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the following bills into law this afternoon:


These pieces of legislation are part of an ongoing effort to make government more accessible by repealing unnecessary laws and regulations that could lead to confusion, delay or inaction.  Through 2017, the Daugaard Administration has repealed 1,541 sections of state statute, removing 129,746 words from the code, and the administration has proposed twenty more red tape bills this legislative session

SB 57 – An Act to revise certain references regarding the contractor’s excise tax.

HB 1015 – An Act to repeal the use of explosives, pyrotechnics, and fireworks for the protection of sunflower crops from depredating birds.

HB 1020 – An Act to revise certain provisions and regulations regarding medical assistants.

HB 1035 – An Act to repeal certain provisions and regulations related to labeling requirements for feed.

HB 1037 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding the South Dakota State Fair.



SB 17 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding a division under the Department of Human Services.

SB 18 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding the South Dakota Board of Technical Education.

SB 27 – An Act to make an appropriation from the coordinated natural resources conservation fund to the State Conservation Commission and to declare an emergency.

SB 40 – An Act to authorize the transfer of certain surplus real estate in Rapid City to the Ellsworth Development Authority and to declare an emergency.

HB 1003 – An Act to revise certain provisions concerning the content of the campaign finance disclosure reports and to declare an emergency.

HB 1006 – An act to revise the extent of comments required by the director of the Legislative Research Council regarding certain ballot measures and the period of time in which those comments are to be made.

HB 1011 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding voter registration list maintenance mailings.

HB 1013 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding voting systems used in elections and to declare an emergency.

HB 1019 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding background checks for physicians and to declare an emergency.

HB 1021 – An Act to revise certain provisions related to the practice of podiatry and to authorize certain fee increases.

HB 1030 – An Act to provide for the cancellation of certain uncollectible unemployment insurance contributions.

HB 1040 – An Act to provide for the licensing of a professional counselor, professional counselor-mental health, or marriage and family therapist licensed in another state under certain circumstances and to declare an emergency.

HB 1041 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding insurers’ internal audit requirements.

HB 1046 – An Act to allow certain resident farmers or ranchers to receive a big game license during the Black Hills deer season.

HB 1047 – An Act to revise certain provisions defining fur-bearing animals.

HB 1048 – An Act to revise certain provisions referring to the statements on auditing standards utilized by the Department of Revenue.

HB 1049 – An Act to revise certain references to the Internal Revenue Code.

HB 1068 – An Act to revise certain provisions regarding the collection of motor fuel tax from interstate fuel users.

HB 1069 – An Act to establish an unladen motor vehicle permit for certain proportionally registered commercial motor vehicles.



“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” This old saying is a good description of how we have approached managing state government in the last seven years.

Before us come so many issues – deferred maintenance, highways, criminal justice, teacher pay – that can’t be solved in one year. But a start must be made. We could kick the can down the road, but the problem would only worsen.  And so, we must do what we can, with patience, persistence and attention to small details, to be a good steward of the state and its assets.

When I was running for governor, I promised to analyze state-owned property and right-size or sell unneeded assets. In the 1800s, when South Dakota became a state, we housed people with mental or physical problems in large, state-owned institutions, often for life. We built big state hospital campuses in Yankton, Redfield and Custer. Sadly, many people were often sent away, and forgotten by their families.

We now know that, in most cases, it is better to serve our citizens in their homes and communities, often through community-based providers. But the state has continued to own these large, old campuses, decades later. Some of the buildings were still being used, but others had fallen into disrepair after being vacant for decades.

It’s irresponsible to let vacant buildings fall in on themselves, and also irresponsible to spend taxes maintaining unneeded property. It’s better to return these properties to the tax rolls.

We began to address this in Yankton at the Human Services Center. We demolished several dilapidated buildings, sold land that was no longer needed, and negotiated a lease-purchase with the local Historical Society to preserve the historic Mead Building. That restoration, funded by charitable gifts and local taxes, is well-underway, and the progress is impressive.

We have addressed this problem on other state campuses – selling surplus property in Redfield, Custer County and Minnehaha County.  We sold STAR Academy to a local entrepreneur and the Plankinton training school campus to the for-profit company that was leasing and operating it. And the Board of Regents is exploring options to better use the School for the Deaf campus in Sioux Falls.

This philosophy extends to current state buildings as well. We must properly maintain them, so future governors and legislatures aren’t left with more rundown buildings. We have set a goal of appropriating two percent of value in maintenance and repair of state buildings, including university buildings. This year I’m proposing to add state-owned technical institute buildings as well.

On our farm, when I was a boy, we always had a big garden, and we ordered plants and seeds by mail from Gurney’s in Yankton. With every order, Gurney’s would always enclose a “bonus” item, as a gift. One year, our bonus was a hackberry bare-root seedling, only a foot long. My dad and I planted that seedling, and now, 50 years later, it’s strong and tall.

Five decades from now, when a new generation of South Dakotans is at the helm, I have no doubt they will benefit from the trees we are planting today. We are sowing seeds which will leave our state better than we found it.


 South Dakotans believe in self-reliance.  The pioneers who settled this state over a century ago, as well as the natives who preceded them, understood the need for self-reliance. In fact, they knew no other way. Those who came to Dakota sought freedom and a fresh start. They understood, though, that freedom requires responsibility, because they could only survive by taking care of themselves.

As a second key value, South Dakotans believe in hard work. It is simply a part of our culture. When we promote South Dakota as a good place to do business, we promote the work ethic of our people.  Those who do business in South Dakota and elsewhere will attest to the fact that South Dakotans know how to work. There’s also a sense of pride that comes with having a job to do and being able to provide for your family.

The Trump Administration recently indicated it is willing to consider state work requirements for Medicaid participants.  The federal government just approved a work requirement as part of Kentucky’s Medicaid program, and I have asked the Department of Social Services to pursue a work requirement for able-bodied adult South Dakotans enrolled in Medicaid here.

This would not apply to every South Dakotan on Medicaid. Our Medicaid program today covers roughly 82,000 children; 23,000 aged, blind or disabled persons; 1,000 pregnant women; and 13,000 very low-income parents. The work requirement would apply only to very low-income parents who aren’t already working or caring for a young child. This would place the work requirement on approximately 4,500 individuals in South Dakota.

By July 1, South Dakota will submit a proposal to seek approval for the work requirement, starting with a two-year pilot. If approved, we will begin with 1,300 Medicaid recipients who reside in Minnehaha and Pennington counties – where there is the greatest availability of employment and training resources. Pending approval, we will begin a voluntary program in these counties in July.

The Department of Labor and Regulation will enroll participants automatically for individualized employment and training services to help them find jobs. For those who earn enough to transition off of Medicaid, we will provide assistance – such as child care subsidies – to ensure their long-term success.

All work has dignity, and work is an important part of personal fulfillment. By making this adjustment to our Medicaid program, we will continue to help persons in need, while helping find jobs for those able to work, and also find that sense of pride and accomplishment which accompanies work.

Delegation Introduces Bill to Transfer Federal Land to Custer County, South Dakota

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today introduced Senate and House companion versions of the Custer County Airport Conveyance Act, legislation that would transfer approximately 66 acres of Black Hills National Forest System land to Custer County, South Dakota. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has agreed to sell this land to the Custer County Airport, giving it full ownership of all acres that the airport occupies. A portion of the Custer County Airport currently occupies USFS land under a longstanding USFS agreement. Both parties have agreed to the terms of the property sale and transfer that are specified in the legislation.

“After consulting with Custer County Commissioners, the airport, and the U.S. Forest Service, we concur with the Forest Service and Custer County that this legislation is the quickest and most efficient means to transfer this land,” said Thune, Rounds, and Noem. “We are pleased that all of the parties negotiated in good faith and arrived at this agreement, which would give Custer County Airport full ownership of all land on which the airport operates.”

This land transfer is necessary so Custer County can make additional improvements to its airport. Custer County has agreed to pay the USFS the appraised value of the land and all costs associated with the conveyance.

Click here for legislative text.