A no-till field at Dakota Lakes Research Farm in Hughes County. (Colette Kessler, USDA NRCS South Dakota)

Climate change makes farm bill conservation programs crucial

BY: - November 28, 2023

While people from around the country think of South Dakota as the home of Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, we are at our core a state powered and defined by our farms and ranches. Agriculture is the South Dakota’s top producing industry, generating almost $12 billion for the economy […]

A South Dakota hunter walks the tall grass with his dog.

Out-of-state hunters help private landowners provide wildlife habitat

BY: - November 27, 2023

A disgruntled hunter wrote a Writers on the Range opinion recently about Westerners getting fed up with the many out-of-staters coming in and buying up draw licenses to shoot bull elk, deer, bear and other big game animals. As a hunter myself, I understand their frustration. But reducing non-resident tags, as Andrew Carpenter suggests, takes […]

The Senate floor in the South Dakota Capitol at Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Governor shouldn’t be the one to choose replacement legislators

BY: - November 24, 2023

Two Republican legislators from Rapid City have resigned. Sen. Jessica Castleberry of District 35 had to resign so she can get busy repaying $600,000 in pandemic relief funding she received through state government, in violation of the Legislature’s ethics rules. Rep. Jess Olson of District 34 said she resigned for health reasons. According to The […]

A man poses with a homestead shack in the area between Dupree and Eagle Butte, on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. (Palmer Sigvald Gilbertson Collection, University of South Dakota)

The cost of free land and either-or history

BY: - November 20, 2023

Some white South Dakotans love to talk about their generational connection to the land. I’m one of them: a proud, fifth-generation descendant of Dakota Territory homesteaders. The federal government awarded nearly 100,000 parcels of free land to South Dakota settlers via the 1862 Homestead Act and successive rounds of related legislation. Modern South Dakotans celebrate […]

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Quiet scanners add another layer of opaqueness to law enforcement

BY: - November 19, 2023

Police are called on to “protect and serve.” In South Dakota that’s what they do, but they do it on their own terms. Too often those terms lack transparency. This became apparent again recently with the announcement that on Nov. 13, privately owned police scanners in the state’s two largest counties would go quiet as […]

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Look beyond the ads and be cautious with Medicare Advantage

BY: - November 16, 2023

Television is flooded these days with commercials encouraging everyone to sign up for Medicare Advantage. What is it, and why are they doing this? First of all, a bit of history. For more than 30 years Congress has debated whether the private insurance industry could deliver Medicare benefits more efficiently than the federal government. In […]

Legislators and guests wait for Gov. Kristi Noem to deliver her budget address on Dec. 6, 2022, in the House chamber at the Capitol in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Noem sets budget mood, but are legislators in a mood to follow?

BY: - November 8, 2023

With her annual budget address set for Dec. 5, Gov. Kristi Noem used her last weekly newspaper column of October to help set the mood for the coming legislative session. The mood she’s going for: overwhelmingly conservative. For the past few years, the state had enjoyed strong economic growth coupled with a windfall of federal […]

Blank journal and glasses. (Getty Images illustration)

An invitation from SD’s new poet laureate: Tell me the what and the why of your life

BY: - November 4, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary is adapted with permission from a speech by Bruce Roseland, South Dakota’s new poet laureate, in September 2023 at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood. For the next four years, I am the ambassador for poetry in South Dakota, and I take this seriously. I see much of living […]

The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tough to evaluate other penitentiary location options without transparency

BY: - October 31, 2023

South Dakota is finally moving forward on the long overdue replacement of its men’s penitentiary near downtown Sioux Falls. It announced a new site and a timeline for the move. However, the process for selecting a replacement site has raised questions and concerns from the public. In recent decades, downtown Sioux Falls has grown into […]

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If you’ve lost Medicaid since the pandemic, expansion coverage may be available

BY: - October 28, 2023

You may not recognize my name, but you might recognize my face. Last year at this time, my personal story was featured as part of the campaign to expand health insurance access in South Dakota. I shared how I didn’t have health insurance when I was diagnosed with leukemia at age 26. I encouraged you […]

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, arrives at a House Republican candidates forum where congressmen who were running for speaker of the House presented their platforms in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Oct. 23, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dusty Johnson wrong about Jordan, right about Republicans

BY: - October 26, 2023

Let’s give Rep. Dusty Johnson the benefit of the doubt, and excuse him for delivering a nominating speech for Rep. Jim Jordan during Jordan’s quest to become the speaker of the House. With the way the world is right now, it’s easy to believe that Johnson thought it best to get someone, anyone, elected.  As […]

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks Sept. 8, 2023, during a rally at The Monument in Rapid City featuring former President Donald Trump. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

South Dakota taxpayer dollars spent to make governor look good

BY: - October 22, 2023

Gov. Kristi Noem is a little young to be suffering from long-term memory loss, but she seems to be forgetting this statement she made to the Legislature during her 2022 budget address: “I recognize that taxpayer dollars are not our own – they belong to the people of South Dakota. We all must remember throughout […]