PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem had a mix of success and rejection during South Dakota’s 2022 legislative session. But she did much better than either of the two state lawmakers looking to replace her.
The Republican governor clearly outperformed her June primary opponent, Representative Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls. House Democrat leader Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls, who was out gathering signatures so he can take on the GOP nominee in November, did no better.
Noem, who’s already filed her candidacy petitions, spoke about 28 specific proposals in her December 2021 budget speech, followed by 10 specific proposals in her January State of the State speech. Haugaard meanwhile was prime sponsor of 13 bills, one joint resolution and a concurrent resolution. Smith was prime sponsor of three bills and one concurrent resolution.
Noem achieved nearly all of her spending proposals. However, House members refused her $10 million plan to add 175 camping sites at Custer State Park, as well as a smaller revised version at a different spot in the park. House members also turned down her request that the state Game, Fish and Parks Department receive $2.5 million of state funding for a proposed shooting range near Rapid City and repeatedly rejected a Senate bill seeking the same.
Noem fared less well on proposed laws that she specifically listed in her January speech. On abortion, lawmakers approved her ban on mail-order abortion pills but refused to introduce her Texas-style proposal to ban abortion when a heartbeat could be detected.
They turned down her attempt to have public schools start the day with a moment of silence, as well as her plan to remove many filing fees for in-state businesses, and her proposed exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations. Lawmakers OK’d her repeals of the bingo tax and many fees for concealed-carry pistol permits.
But senators rejected her proposal to ban divisive concepts in K-12 schools and significantly rewrote the one for higher education, so that divisive concepts can still be taught on campuses governed by the state Board of Regents and state Board of Technical Education, but faculty and staff can’t be forced to take training on them.
As for Haugaard, the former House speaker saw lawmakers in one chamber or the other vote down all but one of his proposals. He wasn’t able to ban chemical abortion drugs, get more cooperation with the state Corrections Commission, revise deadlines for state agencies to submit annual budgeting information, extend unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who were unemployed because of their refusal to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination, expand the ability for patients to seek investigational drugs, allow medical practice on the basis of conscience, or clarify certain public meeting requirements. None made it through.
Haugaard withdrew his proposals for COVID-19 vaccine exemptions, rolling back the state sales tax to 4%, and addressing lobbying, Two of his other bills — to reinstate the prohibition against certain acts causing the termination of an unborn human life, and to address surrogacy — were tabled by committees. The House killed his joint resolution that would have asked voters to define human life, including “the entire embryonic and fetal ages from fertilization to full gestation.” His one note of success was the annual resolution expressing South Dakota’s status as a sister state of Taiwan.
Smith also fared poorly. None of his three bills made it past the first hearing. One proposed expanding the scope of soil conservation. Another would have reduced penalties for ingestion of controlled substances. The third would have regulated school resource officers. He tabled his concurrent resolution supporting the initiatives of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.