Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a Watertown real estate appraiser and journalist whose previous career was as a Colorado newspaper reporter and editor. He has been writing regularly appearing opinion columns for at least 20 years. 

Big Sioux River tributary floodwaters wash through cattle yards in the upper reaches of the river basin on April 13, 2023. (Brad Johnson/For South Dakota Searchlight)

Pollution carried by major floods is killing our lakes

By: - April 20, 2023

The state of South Dakota’s lackadaisical, careless approach to protecting its lakes and streams from agricultural pollution is glaringly apparent when floods are viewed from an airplane.  Hundreds of acres of plowed fields sent tons of black soil down the Big Sioux River during the week of April 8-15. Significant amounts of mud ended up […]

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Moving nominations from conventions to primaries would put power where it belongs

By: - March 3, 2023

In a legislative session jammed with efforts to take rights away from South Dakotans, one bill would have dramatically improved the way our top leaders are elected.  Senate Bill 40, which as previously written would have changed how the two major parties select the state’s top constitutional officers, was gutted by the House this week […]

Author JK Rowling arrives at Royal Albert Hall June 26, 2003, in London. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)

South Dakota woman explores societal conflicts in podcast with ‘Harry Potter’ author

By: - February 23, 2023

It seemed as if everything “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling touched turned to gold. Her series about the boy wizard captivated the world and she became the most famous female author ever known.  Then “it all blew up in the summer of 2020,” wrote Clark, South Dakota, author Megan Phelps-Roper in a Feb. 14 article […]

Cattle near Stoneville, South Dakota, on July 21, 2021. (USDA Photo by Lance Cheung)

On ag pollution, state’s carrot doesn’t work and the stick is a twig

By: - February 16, 2023

Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) Secretary Hunter Roberts confirmed what long has been known about South Dakota during a Jan. 19 briefing before a legislative committee. South Dakota gives only lip service to controlling agricultural pollution. In a broad discussion, Roberts told the House Ag and Natural Resources committee that financial efforts to […]

A person climbs the stairs of the South Dakota Capitol. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Several early bills show some legislators could use a dose of common sense

By: - January 22, 2023

It puzzles me why some South Dakota legislators, who depend on voters for their jobs, are so afraid of their constituents. And why isn’t common sense a legislative job requirement? Oh, right. Voters establish the job criteria. Maybe that is why some legislators are petrified. If they voted the legislator into office, what might they […]

Houses in a new development on Oct. 28, 2022, in Harrisburg. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Political squabbling stalls vital housing investments

By: - January 8, 2023

The Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and inaction by our state’s political leaders have had a dramatic negative effect on South Dakota’s real estate market. A series of interest rate hikes has caused residential sales to decline while the price per single family home is up. Additionally, the inventory of houses available for sale is […]

Snow piles up under an interstate bridge during a December 2022 winter storm in South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of SD Department of Transportation)

Blizzard therapy: Find solace in reading about storms that were even worse

By: - December 15, 2022

What better is there to do during a four-day snowstorm than to think about past snowstorms? “Blizzard therapy” is what author Carey Goldberg called such behavior after he read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” during a 2015 snowstorm. My blizzard therapy caused me to stumble across several little-known historical writings.  One comes from the […]

Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her annual budget address Dec. 6, 2022, at the Capitol in Pierre. (Makenzie Huber/SD Searchlight)

With budget, Noem plays Santa and the Grinch

By: - December 9, 2022

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem played Santa Claus and the Grinch during her budget address Tuesday.  Listening closely were state legislators who know they must pay the bills once the thrill of new gifts has faded.  Particularly excited on Tuesday were Democrats, a small minority in the Legislature. Noem delivered their Christmas morning dreams come […]

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Disappearing nursing homes could suffer more under Noem’s tax cut

By: - December 1, 2022

Shortly before the Nov. 8 general election, South Dakota Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck said Gov. Kristi Noem’s proposal to eliminate the state’s sales tax on food would devastate the state’s nursing homes.  “If you cut $106 million out of the budget, you are going to close the nursing homes in our state,” he […]

In this aerial view, a destroyed apartment building is seen next to an area of heavily damaged houses on April 21, 2022, in Borodianka, Ukraine. (Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

Refugees, immigrants to South Dakota need our compassion

By: - November 17, 2022

During the past two months, I have emceed three benefit concerts to raise awareness of a statewide effort to bring 5,000 to 10,000 Ukrainian war refugees to our state. The concerts in Watertown, Rapid City and Sioux Falls raised about $50,000 to support a fund that will help defray expenses for those who sponsor refugees. […]

Yard signs supporting Initiated Measure 27, piled up in the IM 27 campaign office in Sioux Falls on Nov. 4, 2022. IM 27 sought to legalize adult cannabis use in South Dakota. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Johnson: Colorado experience doesn’t square with legal pot fears

By: - November 7, 2022

Marijuana legalization in Colorado has not had the negative societal effect that opponents of Initiated Measure 27 say it will have on South Dakota if voters pass it on Tuesday. The group against marijuana legalization insinuate that out-of-state drug interests, not South Dakotans who signed petitions, are waging a campaign to endanger our children, families […]

Gov. Kristi Noem attends an event Oct. 12, 2022, at a Sioux Falls grocery store. (John Hult/SD Searchlight)

Noem’s sales-tax promise shows panic during a campaign that should be easy

By: - October 30, 2022

Kristi Noem’s sudden interest in repealing the sales tax on groceries seems like a desperate campaign tactic for a governor who should be coasting to reelection. It shocked legislators, and her onslaught of advertising saying she will repeal the sales tax belittles a Legislature responsible for funding state government.  One has to wonder why Noem […]