The South Dakota Legislature began its 2023 session on Tuesday with Governor Kristi Noem kicking things off with her State of the State Address.
Noem focused on both the success of her first term – highlighting growth in agriculture, tourism, financial services, and personal income – and her plans for the next 4 years.
Noem said “we made South Dakota the strongest state in America by making it the state to pursue the American Dream, a state for stronger families, and a secure state. In the next four, we will prove that the best is yet to come.”
She also pointed to her banning of TikTok on state government devices and to the groundbreaking for a billion-dollar hydrocarbon plant that will turn corn into jet fuel.
As for her plans for the legislative session, she focused first on her campaign promises to eliminate the tax on groceries and increase the state’s workforce to take advantage of 23,000 open jobs currently in the state.
Noem wants a bill to recognize the out-of-state occupational licenses of “just about every profession” for people who move to South Dakota, reducing the unemployment tax for businesses, and encouraging businesses to expand registered apprenticeships.
She wants to launch a dedicated Native American tourism marketing campaign with bus tours this year bringing both domestic and international visitors to the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Standing Rock reservations as well as Milk’s Camp.
Noem said tourism will continue to emphasize telling tribal stories, calling them “a key part” of the state’s rich history and heritage that she’s excited to share with the world.
She also wants to expand the family leave benefit for state employees from 60% of salary for 8 weeks to 100% for 12 weeks, and to let private sector companies buy into the state insurance risk pool with $20-million already budgeted for incentives.