Fresh off her second state of the state address, Governor Kristi Noem says she’s ready for her second year in office. 2019 was full of ups, downs, and plenty of local and national headlines. From a pro-business stance, to a buzzy anti-meth campaign, and perhaps switching gears on a topic she has opposed; Governor Noem is talking to KELOLAND News about her first year in office.
2019 marked a big shift for Governor Kristi Noem. After many years going back and forth to Washington D.C. as a Congressional representative, Noem was starting a new job.
“South Dakota is my home. So, to be here all the time and be here all the time and to be in this role has been a very humbling yet a big honor for our family,” Noem said.
During her first state of the state address, Noem indicated two of her biggest priorities would be tackling the meth problem in the state and boosting a pro-business climate.
“We’re going to roll out the red carpet for businesses that want to locate here, welcome them here. Help them expand,” Noem said.
She says she plans to continue that in her second year in South Dakota’s highest office. In her 2020 State of the State, she says she wants to eliminate red tape. She says there are several bills in the legislature that’ll do that. She says that includes legislation to get rid of certain education requirements that aren’t necessary if a business owner has any type of degree, streamlining certain careers, and eliminating certain licenses that aren’t necessary to public safety. Noem sees this as a way to remove obstacles that could keep away potential new businesses.
“Doing that through the legislative session is incredibly important to get that in statute and push it forward so individuals know when they come to South Dakota, they can immediately get to work,” Noem said.
Noem counts this focus on business as a highlight from her first term, which has seen its fair share of challenges. She says, right away, snow, rain, and flooding began a difficult 2019 for South Dakota.
“So, we immediately went into coordinating activities between counties and tribes with that state and getting FEMA assistance and it never really stopped all year,” Noem said.
And then there was the “Meth: We’re On It” campaign. Noem says it’s meant to be provocative, but it drew national criticism from people who said it mocked addiction. Others said it was helpful because it spread awareness about addiction.
“People ask me quite often if it was worth it, and you know, it’s kind of a hard question to answer. Because, you know, for that individual who finally sat down and had a conversation with someone about their addiction and finally reached out and got help. Maybe, for them, it was worth it,” Noem said.
Noem says the state is moving on with phase two of the campaign, and has asked for $3.7 million in the state’s 2021 budget to spend on intensive meth treatment and enforcement. This is on top of the $4.6 million the legislature approved for this year.
“I’m much more interested in what we can do to give people the tools they need to help people heal,” Noem said.
Noem spent much of 2019 opposing legalizing industrial hemp, and vetoed a bill the legislature approved. This year, Noem could be leaning in the opposite direction.
“The conversation and the situation has changed since last year. We do have federal guidelines now. We do have a Native American tribe that has been given the green light to go ahead with the program, and we also have other states around us that have legalized hemp,” Noem said.
As she begins her second year, Noem doesn’t know what the year will bring. She says she hopes to bring new industries, new careers, and keep more people in the state.
“That’s really my vision for South Dakota is that every single person who wants to be here can find their dream career here and stay right here in South Dakota,” Noem said.