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Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

January 8, 2019

Rapid City Journal, Jan. 3

Celebrating Noem’s earned achievement

Kristi Noem took the oath of office Saturday to become South Dakota’s 33rd governor.

It was a crowning moment for a 47-year-old mother of three who grew up on a family farm in Hamlin County in northeastern South Dakota. Nobody handed Noem this historic achievement of becoming South Dakota’s first woman governor. She worked hard and she fought for it.

If there’s one quality that is most respected by South Dakotans, it’s the will to work hard every day in relentless pursuit of a worthy goal. If there’s a lesson for the state’s boys and girls, it’s that believing in yourself and working hard to accomplish something still matters. Achievement in South Dakota is not a gift of birth, or a result of lineage, location or gender. No obstacle is insurmountable for those who smartly work long and hard for it.

It’s been a dozen years since Noem first entered the Legislature, climbed the ladder of South Dakota Republican Party leadership, tested her mettle in the forever frustrating U.S. House, punched out a Republican primary victory against Attorney General Marty Jackley, and then overcame an unexpectedly strong challenge from Democrat Billie Sutton.

There’s no doubt that each of these accomplishments have left her better prepared her for what undoubtedly will be the biggest challenge of her life. The state’s population is closing in on 900,000 people, its gross domestic product on $50 billion, and the state budget on $1.6 billion.

Like in most states on the Northern Plains, South Dakota’s metropolitan areas have grown, mid-sized cities have held their own, but rural areas continue to shrink. Educational challenges keep growing. Drug addiction remains a vexing problem. A lack of mental health services complicates everything. And progress on the tough nut of relations between Native Americans and other state residents has been agonizingly slow.

Now it’s Noem’s turn to do her best at keeping the good while making progress on our longstanding challenges. It will require her to draw on her experiences in agriculture and government. She will be required to inspire, command respect and deliver real successes.

She will undoubtedly weather strong winds of opposition — some of them undoubtedly coming from here. There will be economic and political uncertainties. That all starts Monday.

Now is a time for celebrating earned achievements, toasting new hopes and offering respect for personal accomplishments. One of our own, a girl born on a South Dakota farm, has climbed to a pinnacle by sheer force of effort. It’s a remarkable victory to behold. We should all celebrate it.


American News, Aberdeen, Jan. 5

New perspectives mean new experiences for South Dakotans

It is an important time in South Dakota history.

Not unlike almost eight years ago when a seemingly timid lieutenant governor made bold moves in his first few days as governor.

Two weeks into his new administration, on Jan. 19, 2011, Gov. Dennis Daugaard stood figuratively and literally alone to call for budget cuts of at least 10 percent throughout the state government departments and offices under his control.

“The gun is at our head,” he said. “I’m tired of looking at death from a thousand paper cuts.”

At that time, he said spending from the state’s general fund must be reduced $127 million in order to bring the budget back into balance with the estimated amounts of tax revenues.

It put his sanity in serious doubt with many South Dakotans who were about to bear the brunt of such cuts. A few days earlier, Daugaard showed his seriousness by starting with himself when he announced he was going to take more than a $15,000 pay cut as governor.

Last month, with just a few weeks left in his second and final term as governor, Daugaard outlined his last state budget proposal as a “needs budget,” not a “wants budget.” Daugaard was proud to be talking about a $4.8 billion balanced budget for fiscal year 2020 that will begin on July 1.

“We don’t spend money we don’t have,” Daugaard said during his hour-long farewell address to the lawmakers and other interested parties gathered in the Capitol’s House chamber in Pierre.

Also listening was Kristi Noem, elected as the state’s first female governor. Noem will use Daugaard’s proposed budget as a basis for her own.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to build on Gov. Daugaard’s foundation ... and his unwavering commitment to South Dakota,” she said.

Noem will have a lot to live up to financially. Daugaard brought South Dakota to the land of fiscal responsibility.

That’s rare these days, in a time when our elected leaders often don’t see anything wrong with spending money they don’t have.

That bottom-line mindset sets the table for an important and exciting point in our state history.


Madison Daily Leader, Madison, Jan. 3

Reduced antibiotic use is paying off

After years of warnings, the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals has reversed course.

Some observers consider antibiotics the “miracle drugs” of the 20th century. They have been incredibly useful for both human and animal health.

However, the risk of using antibiotics is resistance — the tendency of bacteria to fight back against antibiotics. Some experts say the overuse of antibiotics is causing the development of “super strains” of bacteria that cannot be fought with antibiotics. An estimated two million Americans suffer from antibiotic-resistant infections every year.

Some of the overuse has occurred in food-producing animals. It’s proper, of course, to use the antibiotics in treating sick animals, but some producers have been giving antibiotics as a growth accelerator, or as a preventive medicine against potential infections. Both are considered overuse.

The Obama administration proposed that manufacturers stop selling antibiotics for growth promotion and that veterinary oversight be strengthened for other uses. The Food and Drug Administration now shows the fruits of this wise step. There was a 33 percent decline between 2016 and 2017 in domestic sales and distribution of all medically important antimicrobials for use in food-producing animals — and a drop of 43 percent since 2015.

We applaud those who both passed the rules and those who are abiding by them. We can’t estimate the benefit of reduced antibiotic overuse, but we know it is substantial.

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