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Noem responds to several bill rejections by legislature

Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her 2023 State of the State Address at the Capitol building in Pierre.
Lee Strubinger
Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her 2023 State of the State Address at the Capitol building in Pierre.

Gov. Kristi Noem is weighing in on several defeats her policy priorities have taken this legislative session.

Those rejections come from a supermajority Republican-controlled legislature.

On Tuesday, Noem saw two of her key policy initiatives fail. One removed the state sales tax on food. The other established a panel that reviews agriculture land purchases and leases made by foreign persons and governments.

Earlier this session, a House committee rejected a proposal to put $15 million to establish a voucher program for foster kids to attend a school of their choice. Lawmakers also rejected an idea to put $20 million into a pool for private businesses to buy into to offer paid family leave.

Many Republican lawmakers voiced support for goals of these proposals, but said the bills, as written, were not the right solutions.

Noem said part of the rejection is due to policy discussions lawmakers have never had in the Capitol before.

“So that’s good,” Noem said. “And yeah, I was very disappointed by the paid family leave policy. Very disappointed by people who said they were openly supporting it and going to help us champion it that ultimately, then voted against it.”

Of the legislative policy items Noem outlined in her State of the State speech, only four are still alive. One is signed into law, one is in the House and two are in the Senate

The signed law revises to employer contribution rate to the unemployment trust fund, which will result in an $18 million dollars savings to South Dakota businesses.

House lawmakers will weigh in on a bill that compels fathers pay for pregnancy and prenatal care.

The Senate still must consider two of Noem’s bills. One recognizes several types of licensed professionals who move to the state. The other revises who can bring an agriculture nuisance claim.

As for the ones that have failed, Noem said there’s still time.

“We got a couple of weeks left, here. It might be a bit of a roller coaster, but I have a role to play in this budget. I have a role to play in these bills," Noem said. "We will continue to evaluate each one and see if it’s the best path for South Dakota.”

Regularly scheduled legislative session runs through March 9.

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.