Lee Strubinger

Politics and Public Policy Reporter

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Courtesy Photo

A healthcare advocacy group has lost a legal fight.

The state Supreme Court says voters will decide a ballot question that could affect Medicaid expansion. 

The state Legislature is asking voters to make it harder to pass ballot questions that raise taxes or require the state spend 10 million dollars over five years. Those ballot questions would require 60 percent voter approval.

Rick Weiland is with the Dakotans for Health, which opposes the measure. He’s disappointed but respects the court’s decision.

Office of Governor Kristi Noem


Governor Kristi Noem says she does not have plans to issue a public service announcement urging South Dakotans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 


SDPB / Lee Strubinger

State tourism officials expect a busy season as more Americans get their COVID-19 vaccinations. 

But hospitality businesses are struggling to fill seasonable jobs, despite an increase in the number of temporary work visas. 


Governor Kristi Noem plans to sue  the National Park Service for refusing a fireworks show this summer at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial.

Governor Noem made her announcement at a speech before  the Watertown Rotary Club on Thursday. 

“I’m going to file a lawsuit against the administration to get the fireworks back,” Noem said.  

The governor says the document allowing last year’s July fireworks event included a multi-year agreement.  

Joe Sneve / Argus Leader

State Supreme Court justices are considering the constitutionality of a voter-approved measure to legalize recreational marijuana.  

However, some say the legal challenge is a way to ban marijuana.  

South Dakota voters passed Amendment A by 54 percent.  

A few weeks after the 2020 election, Governor Kristi Noem and two law enforcement leaders challenged the law on several constitutional grounds.  


The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on whether a voter approved measure legalizing marijuana is constitutional. 

Those challenging the amendment say it violates a recent law that limits constitutional changes to only one subject. The state’s high court has yet to interpret the provision.  

South Dakota voters legalized recreational AND medical marijuana last year when they passed Amendment A. Both of the measures involve cannabis and its uses, but those appealing to the state Supreme Court say they are two separate issues. 


Governor Kristi Noem wants President Joe Biden to reinstate the Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore. 

The call comes less than a month after spring wildfires led to evacuations in west Rapid City and the temporary closing of the shrine of democracy. 

Governor Noem says the Park Service is reneging on a Memorandum of Agreement between that agency and the state of South Dakota. 



The South Dakota High School Athletics Association is recommending schools hold off on submitting any transgender athlete waiver applications. 

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem recently issued two executive orders that could be at odds with a federal justice department memo. 

Governor Noem’s executive orders state that only girls—based on a determination at birth—can play girls’ sports. Critics say that ultimately prevents transgender girls from playing girls’ sports.  

There are currently no transgender girl athlete’s doing that. 

NDN Collective


A new community-based school in Rapid City will immerse students in Lakota language and culture. 

The effort is a response to the refusal by state and local leaders  to open similar schools around the state. 


President Biden’s "American Jobs Plan” is a $2 trillion proposal that dedicates at least $1 trillion on a number of broad ranging infrastructure projects.    

Some South Dakota Republican leaders are publicly criticizing the plan.  

Biden’s jobs plan  calls for an investment in traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges.  It also includes $400 billion dollars to expand home or community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities.  

Representative Dusty Johnson says Biden’s plan is too expensive.   


Governor Kristi Noem wants lawmakers back for a special session in  late May or early June.

She wants legislators to address several  issues -- changes to a  medical marijuana program and what to do with new coronavirus relief money.

Noem also wants action that could face an uphill challenge in the state Senate.

Governor Noem issued two executive orders moments after state lawmakers failed to approve  changes to a partial veto on a bill. Noem says her orders are meant to protect women’s high school and collegiate sports.


One of South Dakota’s top politicians is telling citizens to get their COVID-19 vaccine. 


Travis Mason-Bushman, U.S. Forest Service.


The Schroeder Fire near Rapid City has grown slightly, but officials say some residents could return to their homes starting tomorrow. 

The fire is around 50 percent contained. 

Officials estimate the Schroeder Fire has now reached 2100 acres. The fire began Monday morning on private property. Officials know where the fire started but are still investigating the cause. Closures and evacuations remain in effect as officials reevaluate areas that have been burned.

Travis Mason-Bushman, U.S. Forest Service.


Two different fires burning in the Black Hills—one near Mt. Rushmore and one near Rapid City—are zero percent contained. 

Strong winds overnight kept the Schroeder Fire near Rapid City burning hot. The fire is now at about 1900 acres. Two-hundred and fifty firefighters from across the state are responding to the incident. One home and two outbuildings have been destroyed. Officials estimate about 230 home have been evacuated. 



There are two new executive orders from Governor Kristi Noem. Her general counsel says the moves are designed to ensure that only girls born female play girls’ sports. 

The executive orders came moments after House lawmakers failed to override Governor Noem’s partial veto of the bill.  Neither the legislation nor the governor’s orders mention transgender girl athletes specifically. But critics say that’s exactly who this is targeting. 

After failed negotiations between South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and the state's House lawmakers, the governor issued two executive orders Monday designed to limit participation on women's and girls' school sports teams to people assigned female at birth.


Governor Kristi Noem’s style and form veto of a bill that requires girls’ sports be reserved for “biological females” is considered by some lawmakers as executive overreach.  


But the revision is not without precedent.  



Governor Kristi Noem wants to defend Title IX protections by declaring boys play boys sports and girls play girls sports – in essence preventing transgender girls from participating in sports.  

She’s reaching out to other governors and attorneys general to join her. Transgender advocates in the state say she hasn’t reached out to them.  

Governor Noem says her office has been studying Title IX cases since September and doesn’t think the bill that reached her desk would hold up in the courts.  


Women fought for decades to participate in high school and collegiate competitive sports.  

Some say that progress is in jeopardy as transgender girls and women compete in women’s athletics. 

Lawmakers across the country are leaning on previous progress to turn away transgender girls from competition. 

More than two dozen states are debating versions of the same legislation. The bills segregate high school and college sports based on an athlete’s biology or, more specifically, based on an athlete’s gender at birth. 

SDPB's Lee Strubinger

Governor Kristi Noem’s office is reviewing a bill that restricts transgender girls from girl’s sports teams.  

The bill is modeled after legislation in more than a dozen states.  

Critics say state lawmakers are targeting the LGBTQ community to make political points.  

About a dozen protestors chant outside the Governor’s Mansion in Pierre. They want Governor Kristi Noem to veto the bill that targets trans girl athletes.   

A bill that bans abortion for fetuses with Down syndrome has reached the governor’s desk with little opposition.  It further restricts a woman’s access to a legal abortion in South Dakota.

At the start of this legislative session, Governor Kristi Noem outlined her priorities in the State of the State address. One creates a new distinction to the state’s strict abortion laws. It makes abortion of a fetus with Down syndrome a felony. 

Monday, the South Dakota state Senate passed a bill that restricts transgender women athletes from competing on high school and college girls' and women's teams. The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem who has said she is excited to sign the bill into law.

"This is a very simple bill. It's a bill to protect women's sports," says Republican State Sen. Maggie Sutton, one of the primary sponsors of the legislation. "It's not against transgenders," Sutton says.



The South Dakota state senate is passing a bill along to Governor Kristi Noem that proponents say protects fairness in women’s sports. 

South Dakota will join Mississippi in passing a nearly identical bill.

The bill died in a Senate committee, was revived and passed 20-15 in favor. It mandates that high school and college women’s sports are reserved for “biological women.” 

Each school will collect written waivers that state every high school and collegiate athletes’ age, reproductive biology, and whether they’ve taken performance enhancing drugs. 



Some Senate Republicans are using a legislative maneuver to revive a bill that targets transgender girl athletes.  

The bill would restrict transgender women athletes from competing on high school and college girl’s and women’s teams. The bill’s author says she wants to prevent any athlete from having an unfair competitive advantage. 

The bill essentially died in a legislative committee on Wednesday. Supporters of another bill targeting transgender people used a similar maneuver earlier in the session. That bill eventually died. 



Lawmakers will delay possible impeachment proceedings against  Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg until court action is completed. 

House legislative leaders have stripped the articles of impeachment from their  resolution. 

They say a recent order from a Hyde County court judge prevents them from  a transparent impeachment process. The judge ruled that video interviews about the fatal crash when Ravnsborg was driving had to be taken off a state website. Lawmakers say that makes a impeachment impossible.  



A Senate panel has rejected a bill that would restrict transgender athletes from girls and women’s sports teams.   

The bill would also require that South Dakota schools and athletic associations verify all athlete’s gender.  

The bill’s author is Republican Representative Rhonda Milstead. She says the proposal is an attempt to assure equal competition by restricting transgender athletes from women’s teams.   



A bill that changes state laws around homeschooling is headed to the governor’s desk. It strips requirements that those students take standardized tests during certain grades, among other changes. 

Representatives from the governor’s office have testified in favor of the bill, referencing letters from families who wanted to move to South Dakota but didn’t after noting the state’s laws on homeschooling. 


House lawmakers are passing a bill that pushes out implementation of a voter approved medical marijuana program by six months.  

It also sets up an interim committee to study that program and how it works within current state law.  

Initiated Measure 26 would go into effect on July first of this year. Governor Kristi Noem and legislative leaders initially wanted a full year from that date, to take a closer look at the program.  


House lawmakers are introducing articles of impeachment against Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for his involvement in a fatal car crash last September.

The articles were introduced moments after Governor Kristi Noem called on Ravnsborg to resign.

There are two articles to impeach the attorney general.

Ravnsborg faces three misdemeanors, but no felonies from a crash that killed Highmore resident Joseph Boever last September. Authorities say Boever was walking on the shoulder of the highway the night of the crash.



A house panel is passing a bill that prevents transgender girls from playing in high school girls’ sports. 

Proponents say it’s meant to preserve the integrity of female sports. Opponents say it targets the transgender community in South Dakota. 

The bill says sports designated as being female are only available to participants who are female based on their biological sex.