Growing South Dakota’s communities


Communities are the heartbeat of South Dakota. As I travel across the state, I hear this over and over: people love our state, and they want to preserve our special way of life for generations to come.

I agree.

South Dakota’s communities are strong, and our people value the traditions rooted in our movie theatres, cafes, and landmarks. In order to preserve these treasures, though, and keep our kids and grandkids right here in South Dakota, we must continue to grow and expand opportunity for them.

At the end of January, I outlined a plan that would fix one of the problems holding back growth in our communities, the conditional use permitting process. My legislation protects local control by letting a local community decide what projects they want to support, rather than a fringe few. It would set up a fair, certain, and reliable system for everyone – the community members and economic developers. In short, as I laid out in my State of the State, it rolls out the red carpet, not the red tape for those who want to create or expand their business.

Thus far, we’ve received the support of county commissioners, agriculture associations, energy business leaders like the South Dakota Wind Energy Association, and many others from around the state.

Notably, Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau. said that the bill will “fix a lot of the issues and irritations we’ve had with our permitting process for many years.”

Pennington County Commissioner Gary Drewes supports the change, too, saying “timing is critical for developments, and this bill brings back more local control.”

Craig Anderson, the president of South Dakota Pork Producers, agreed. “This legislation will streamline the process for projects which will make job creation easier in rural South Dakota,” he said.

And Jerry Schmitz, executive director of the South Dakota Soybean Association, said this “opens the gates of opportunity” for our hometowns and our way of life. The most sure-fire way to strengthen South Dakota is to expand economic opportunity so our kids and their kids can stay here and raise their families. I love our state, and we’re working hard to ensure our communities stay strong for generations to come.