Commentary

The lobby of the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. (Courtesy of USGS)

The biggest thing you’ve never heard of: How EROS changed the world from a cornfield

BY: - August 18, 2023

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you’re like most South Dakotans, EROS is the most important building you’ve never heard of. If you know it at all, there’s a strong chance you live in the Sioux Falls area and a slim chance you actually […]

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South Dakota political parties battle themselves more than each other

BY: - August 16, 2023

It used to be that the toughest thing about politics was getting elected to office. Lately in South Dakota, the toughest thing about politics has been keeping the parties in line. That was apparent this month when Dan Ahlers, the executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, resigned. Ahlers, who was hired in May […]

Gov. Kristi Noem arrives at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip campground after riding in the Legends Ride for charity on Aug. 9, 2021, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The holy Sturgis trinity: Noem, Jesus and family

BY: - August 15, 2023

A warning to all non-South Dakotans: If you bring your family to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally expecting to meet Jesus, you’re likely to be disappointed. Maybe even offended. That public service announcement has become necessary to correct the record after a glowing assessment of the rally’s rectitude last week from Gov. Kristi Noem. She started […]

U.S. Forest Service firefighters prepare to battle the Caldor Fire on Aug. 31, 2021, in Meyers, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Wildland firefighter pay gains could go up in smoke

BY: - August 14, 2023

At any given moment during this smoky summer of 2023, hundreds of wildfires were blazing in the United States — more than 850 as of late July, according to the nonprofit Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center. Most of those wildfires ignited in the forests of the American West. Fires were also burning by the thousands […]

Some farmers have argued that their land shouldn't be subject to eminent domain for liquid carbon dioxide pipelines. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Riding the tilt-a-whirl of ag land values

BY: - August 12, 2023

The dizzy tilt-a-whirl of rising South Dakota agricultural land values may be slowing, but the challenge of keeping pace is enough to make people queasy. Two recent reports, one in late July by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSA), and another in August by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide the latest insight into […]

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It’s hard to get stoked about repealing medical marijuana

BY: - August 8, 2023

One feature of South Dakota’s citizen ballot initiative process is that it values effort over expertise. Consider the case of Travis Ismay. The Newell man would like the 2024 election to include a ballot initiative repealing the legality of the state’s medical marijuana program.  Ismay is full of praise for the Legislative Research Council and […]

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, speaks to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on June 14, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy of Rep. Johnson's Office)

Johnson subjects military funding to partisan politics, despite pledging otherwise

BY: - August 5, 2023

How times have changed for the Republican Party. It was once the party of law and order. Now Donald Trump, its top candidate for president, is facing his third recent indictment, this time for fomenting the overthrow of the very government he purportedly wants to lead. It was once the party of business, but now […]

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Thousands of South Dakotans will see immediate benefits from Medicaid expansion

BY: - August 4, 2023

Many South Dakotans rejoiced with their family, friends and neighbors on July 1, the effective date of voter-approved Amendment D. With Medicaid expansion, we are keeping millions of our federal taxpayer dollars in the state, strengthening our economy and helping to keep rural hospitals open. South Dakota joins 39 other states across the nation in […]

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a meeting about the Governors Initiative on Regulatory Innovation in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Dec. 16, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Noem, Trump and the politics of inaction

BY: - August 3, 2023

Gov. Kristi Noem’s rise to national prominence began on March 23, 2020. Fear and speculation were rampant as the coronavirus swept into the state. Noem issued an executive order with instructions for South Dakotans and held a press conference to discuss it.  Her choice of language was peculiar. She told South Dakotans what they “should” […]

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Cultivating the next crop of America’s farmers

BY: - August 1, 2023

I consider my days in the sun as a young, organic farmer to be the most rewarding work I’ve done. The days were long, hot and unforgiving, but I felt free. Farmers have my utmost respect and I believe them to be the backbone of America. But for young people like me, becoming a full-time […]

Members of the state House of Representatives stand and applaud after a $104 million tax cut bill passed with unanimous support on March 9, 2023, at the Capitol in Pierre. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Lawmakers have themselves to blame for SD’s embarrassing teacher pay

BY: - July 30, 2023

Call it deja vu gone bad. A recent meeting of the state’s Teacher Compensation Review Board had to once again deal with the fact that teachers’ salaries in South Dakota are a national embarrassment. At the board meeting, figures were used from the National Education Association which listed the average teacher pay in South Dakota […]

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Brian Bengs speaks to supporters on Nov. 7, 2022, at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Amendment is clumsy way to keep Legislature from manhandling voter initiatives

BY: - July 16, 2023

South Dakota’s legislative process is haunted by the ghost of Initiated Measure 22. Endorsed by a little more than 51% of voters in 2016, the anti-corruption measure was quickly dismantled in the next legislative session. Since then, lawmakers have lived with a reputation for dismissing the will of the people. Derailing IM 22 has had […]