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The first week of the 98th Legislative Session began with Governor Noem’s State of the State Address and the formal election of Senate and House leadership. Governor Noem began her address with the words, “We are thriving and we are strong!”
Here are the highlights of the State of the State Address:
South Dakota’s agriculture industry is now a $32 billion industry and it’s responsible for 1 in 5 jobs in the state. We need to continue to preserve agriculture’s opportunity to thrive. Tourism, financial services, and other industries are continuing to grow, as well.
South Dakota is number one in the nation for personal income growth over the past several years. That is how South Dakotans build the American Dream – by working hard and earning more than they have before. We have the fastest growth of housing developments in the entire country. We have the most family-owned businesses in any state. That’s part of how we make families stronger. We have the most registered hunters per capita of any state. And we were recognized for making the best decisions by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
We’ll build the American Dream by cutting taxes on food for South Dakotans.
Both South Dakota’s Army and Air Guard units have led the nation, winning award after award for best units in the country. Just this past month, we deployed the 109th Regional Support Group to the Middle East as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. But the National Guard stands ready here at home, too. When the winter snow and bitter cold hit our state just before Christmas, the men and women in uniform took time away from their families to help other families in need across the state, including all the tribal reservations that needed assistance.
Ease restrictions on occupational licenses for military spouses who move to South Dakota. In addition, provide similar changes that will allow healthcare licenses and other related professional licenses to be recognized in South Dakota when valid in another state.
South Dakota continues to seek opportunities to expand registered apprenticeships by partnering with employers. Last month, the Department of Labor & Regulation awarded four grants to create four apprenticeship pipelines for high schoolers across the state. The four recipients were Bear Butte Gardens for agriculture, Belle Fourche School District for healthcare, Harrisburg School District for agriculture, and Dakota State University for education.
Access to childcare efforts will include a complete overhaul of childcare rules and regulations. Releasing $40 million in federal for childcare providers. We held several meetings with providers so that these grants will target exactly what they need – from new technology to startup funds to quality initiatives.
Currently, the state provides paid family leave benefits at 60% of an employee’s salary for 8 weeks. Governor Noem is recommending the state extend that benefit to 100% of the salary for 12 weeks. This new family leave policy won’t just cover new births or adoptions – it will also cover taking care of a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition, or a situation where a spouse is called to active-duty military service.
Seek to expand the program of the family leave policy beyond state employees by inviting private sector companies to participate in the state’s risk pool. By enlarging the risk pool, it will provide a much more affordable benefit for companies and their employees. employees. Governor Noem’s budget provides $20 million in grants to incentivize private sector companies to participate for the first few years.
Propose $1.1 million to help give pregnancy and postpartum care to moms who are Medicaid recipients. Pregnant moms who are at risk of poor birth outcomes will receive intensive care management. This will help moms have a healthy pregnancy – and this care will extend after birth.
“Stronger Families Scholarships” to provide a new educational opportunity for foster/adopted kids. Any child in the foster care system will have the opportunity to receive up to $4,000 in a scholarship to help them achieve their full potential, from kindergarten through 12th grade. This money can be used to pay tuition at a private school, pay for tutoring or teaching services, purchase curriculum, pay for standardized tests or AP exams, and more.
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