Ready or not, the 95th session of the South Dakota Legislature is under way. The first week includes a lot of organizational items, along with important addresses by key government leaders.
On Tuesday, Governor Noem gave her State of the State Address. She noted how the $5 million allocated last year to expanding broadband access activated $20 million of private investment and resulted in new service to 6,500 families and 150 businesses. She talked about our growing tourism economy, how DSU is leading the country in training cyber security experts, and shared her new directive to allow GOED (economic development) funds to be used for critical employment housing in small towns.
The highlight of her speech for me was her mention of the potential for Bio-Processing to be “the next big thing” for South Dakota. I believe there is no better investment we could make than to leverage the expertise we have in our land grant universities with the productivity of South Dakota’s farmers. That combination will certainly lead to innovation. By strategically investing in what we are best at, South Dakota could become the epicenter of innovation for a new agriculture based economy – and a healthier, greener world. That is exciting!
Wednesday, we heard the State of the Judiciary Address by Chief Justice David Gilbertson. Justice Gilbertson has served for 25 years on the Supreme Court and has been our Chief Justice since 2001. Retiring later this year, he reflected on the changes during his years as Chief Justice. Most notably he mentioned that none of the issues we face today were part of his address 19 years ago. The world is changing. His guidance has helped us lead through the changes. He noted, without a hint of pride, that South Dakota’s judicial system was ranked highest in the nation, in a recent Harris poll. He is a humble man who has been an effective, positive, servant leader for us. The “bar” is set high for our next Chief Justice. If you see Justice Gilbertson, please tell him “thanks”.
On Thursday, Crow Creek Tribal Chairman, Lester Thompson, gave the State of the Tribes Address. After beginning with introductions of other tribal chiefs in attendance, Chairman Thompson expressed his gratitude and extended his hand to the Speaker of the House, Steve Haugaard. He thanked the Speaker for his efforts that brought him to the House chamber to speak to us. In a year when there has been plenty of tension and miscommunication between the Governor’s office and the 9 tribes who call South Dakota home, it was an especially welcome time of listening and cooperation.
In service to God and you,
John Mills, Representative, District 4