For generations, South Dakotans have held true to the values that make our state a special place to call home. I spend every day working to keep South Dakota a special place to live and strengthen it for the future. By doing so, South Dakota sets an example for the nation.
Because of our hard work, history and values, South Dakota has become a popular destination for Americans looking to relocate their families. Tens of thousands have already made the move from across the country.
As we welcome new residents to our neighborhoods, we learn bits and pieces about the places where they have come from. Many have stories about deteriorating cities where respect for law and order has declined and violent crime has increased. Others talk about school systems that promote division and revisionist history instead of a true and honest accounting of history.
We reassure ourselves and our new friends by telling them, “That can’t happen here.”
Those may be very destructive words in a thriving society. As the saying goes, “complacency breeds contempt.” We cannot take for granted the blessings of life in South Dakota.
Can it happen here? Yes, but not if we remain vigilant. The response we should all have is “that won’t happen here.” And then we need to take action to make that a reality.
We’ve seen the news coverage about other states shutting down churches, punishing students and faculty for praying in school or taking away fairness for women in athletic events. That won’t happen here.
Last week, I announced two priority pieces of legislation: restoring protections for prayer in school and protecting girls’ sports.
In this legislative session, I am calling on lawmakers to pass a bill allowing for a minute of silent reflection in schools. I believe every student deserves the opportunity to begin their day with a quick prayer. I know this will be a beneficial practice for students and teachers.
The bill allows for a student to pray during this time but does not force them to do so. Instead, the student is free to choose how to use this time to prepare themselves for a successful day of learning.
The second bill I unveiled this week will ensure that only female athletes, based on their biological sex, shall participate in any team sport or athletic event designated as being for females, women or girls. This would apply to both K-12 schools and colleges.
Ronald Reagan made a great point when he called on Americans “to teach our children the values and the virtues handed down to us by our families, to have the courage to defend those values and the willingness to sacrifice for them.”
It’s not enough to say it cannot happen here. I am taking action every day to make sure bad policies do not find a home here in South Dakota. I hope you all will join me.