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Governor's Column: Creating Fairness for Businesses and Families

Creating Fairness for Businesses and Families 

By Governor Kristi Noem 
February 20, 2020 

Imagine a South Dakota where grandparents aren’t saying goodbye to their grandkids because their moms and dads are leaving the state to pursue their careers. And a South Dakota where students are able to stay here, at home, after they graduate because they found a job in the field they want to pursue like precision-ag, energy development, or any number of other things – because all our communities are growing and thriving.
That’s my dream, and it’s my mission. 
In mid-February, I testified before the Senate State Affairs Committee in favor of legislation that would help make this dream a reality. Our world isn’t static, and if we’re going to keep our state’s business environment competitive, we must keep things fair, open, and honest.
You’ve heard me say before that South Dakota is open for business. But there are some issues we need to fix that are holding back progress. One of those problems is the conditional use permitting process. For those who may not know, at times, this process is unnecessarily difficult; it takes a lot of time; and it often gets hijacked by a vocal few. This uncertainty is unfair to everyone involved.
Senate Bill 157 is my proposal to create a fairer, more predictable process for businesses and families who want to create or expand their operations in South Dakota.
This legislation protects local control by putting decisions in the hands of a majority, not a vocal few. It provides certainty to what can be a very unpredictable process. And, it moves many decisions out of the court system and back into the hands of local residents.
My plan does all of this without changing any environmental standards the state or counties must follow; without making changes to current or future zoning standards established by a county; and without changing public input or notice for conditional use permits. 
From county commissioners to energy companies and local farmers to the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, to date, we have received strong support inside and outside the legislature. I ask that you too join our efforts. Please reach out to your neighbors, friends, and family members and ask them to support Senate Bill 157. Together, we can grow our hometowns, expand job opportunities, and keep our kids and grandkids right here in South Dakota for many, many years to come.