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Noem Subverting Public Engagement with Push for New Marijuana Bill on Veto Day

Kristi Noem served in the Legislature for a couple of terms before running off to Washington to play Congress. Does she really not understand how the Legislature works?

The Legislature runs from January through March. Legislators cast their last votes on their bills, up or down, in early March, then come back for one day at the end of March to deal with any remaining vetoes.

Governor Noem proposed a bill in February, House Bill 1100, to delay Initiated Measure 26, the voter-approved medical marijuana law. HB 1100 went through the normal Legislative process and failed to pass, and legislators said, oh well, that’s the way it goes. Let’s go home.

But now with nothing but Veto Day left, Governor Noem is circulating a new bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes… and evidently that draft is just one of many new bills she’s considering:

Noem’s chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, said the governor isn’t necessarily in support of the draft proposal, among multiple being considered by Noem and lawmakers behind the scenes.

“This is one of several draft bills being circulated for discussion and Gov. Noem has not endorsed any of them,” he said [Joe Sneve, “Gov. Kristi Noem Floats Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana in South Dakota,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2021.03.23].

Boy, I knew Al Novstrup was setting a bad example back in 2017 when he put a new bill up on Veto Day. The whole point of the Legislative process is to air bills in the Session and give legislators and the public a chance to read them, study them, blog and tweet them, testify on them at two committee hearings, and raise hell about them back home at crackerbarrels before they come to floor votes. If a legislator or the Governor doesn’t get what she wants during Session, well, absent an emergency, she needs to accept that she lost this round and needs to wait and try again next Session, when we can run new proposals through a fair and open process.

But that fair and open process resulted in advocates for Initiated Measure 26 winning the day and persuading the Legislature to choose the people’s will over the Governor’s. So instead, the Governor, who said something early in the Session about wanting more civic engagement, seems inclined to refight her battle against IM 26 behind closed doors, in private memos, and in a rushed Veto Day process that hinges on suspending the rules and pushing her priorities without public scrutiny or input.

Let’s make a deal, Legislature: follow your own rules. No new bills next Monday. Keep Veto Day for vetoes. Accept the outcome of your regular process and go home.


  1. Ryan 2021-03-24

    Won’t matter soon anyway. The plaintiff’s reply is due today in the appeal for Amendment A. I can’t wait to read it. Ultimately, I expect our Supreme Court will correctly apply the law rather than ignore it like the circuit court judge did. Cannabis will be legal come July, and noem will just have to sit there in her wrongness and be wrong.

  2. Nick Nemec 2021-03-24

    The first and most important rule of the SD Legislature is that there are no rules.

  3. Disgusted Dakotan 2021-03-24

    She is flailing in a desperate attempt to distract from the look behind the curtain people have glimpsed of the dishonest political
    opportunist that she is.

  4. 96Tears 2021-03-24

    Did COVID Kristi break up with The Lew??? The Lew would never allow such ham-fisted handling of the anti-trans bill, and now this. Two steps forward, three sideways and two steps back. This bill does not decriminalize marijuana, or did COVID Kristi flip on this too? She made it clear she wasn’t budging in her opposition to changing the marijuana laws, and her position had been to ignore the 2020 election when the people approved medical marijuana and decriminalizing marijuana. Flip-flopping like a fat carp on the floor of my boat!

    You’re right, Cory. Best advice for Noem: Put down that shovel, stop digging and go home. It’s what The Lew would do.

    My guess COVID Kristi won’t like this op-ed in the WaPost from a conservative think-tank:

  5. o 2021-03-24

    Both the transgender women in sports and marijuana (both medicinal and recreational) issues being on the front burner now really make we question what was going on this session in Pierre. Not only the use of veto day as a legislative action day — after the fact, but also the discussion of a special session — after the fact — point to an administration unfocused on the actual requirements and procedures of governance.

  6. Loren 2021-03-24

    All the experience Kristi has gotten, from State legislature to D.C. and back, has taught her only one thing… if you have an “R” by your name, rules don’t apply!

  7. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-03-24

    The No Rules Party with Monarch.

    Rounds sent me letter saying Trumps 2nd Impeachment wasn’t constitutional, ignore ngbthe lengthy history of Federal officials being impeached after they were out of office.

    Multi Party Democracy needed. As in Democrats and more Center Left Parties.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-03-24

    Legislators are suggesting they may need a Special Session to deal with a new marijuana bill. Really? We didn’t have time to do that during the regular Session? What’s the rush here? Are we really worried that someone’s going to grow 5000 pot plants at home and use medical marijuana as a cover for an illegal drug op? Cops can’t use the existing licensing system and the detailed framework established by the people in IM 26 to tell the difference?

    I can’t help thinking Noem is trying to get everyone back together when the lobbyists and attentive advocates have gone home so she can pull a fast one.

  9. John Dale 2021-03-24

    Seems this was for the folks mad about protection of girls’ sports.

  10. Ryan 2021-03-24

    John, what are you talking about?

  11. grudznick 2021-03-24

    Perhaps, Mr. H, despite your vast experience in these matters, the legislatures do not work exactly as you think they work. Perhaps things happen of which you are unaware. Perhaps the legislatures work they way the Governor and the legislatures themselves choose to work.

    I’m just sayin…

  12. Mark Anderson 2021-03-24

    Gosh, Kristi has all sides attacking her now. She turned from her right wing excitement against transgenders and into middle of the road mush, no wonder she needs a little medical marijuana. The trumpies accept no compromise, bye bye Presidency.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2021-03-24

    well….over the last ten years, 30,000 South Dakotans have had drug charges of various kinds lodged against them, clogging the court dockets and jails. Its been an expensive proposition both fiscally and in terms of human lives disrupted. Obviously, South Dakotans are tired of the Republican directed “war on drugs” and want a new approach.The Governor and many in the legislature are ignoring the public and playing the delaying game. So it goes……

  14. AmyB 2021-03-24

    Kim Jong Noem really needs to accept and get over the fact that she is not the Supreme Leader of this state. Her actions and decisions show everyone the type of person she is and what really matters to her and it’s not the people in this state. She will pull out every bullying tactic and underhanded trick to get her way on marijuana in any form.

  15. grudznick 2021-03-24

    Ms. Noem may yet come around to the side of the Conservatives with Common Sense, where she could have a seat at the head breakfast table and wouldn’t even have to cook our eggs, bacon, and gravy taters.

  16. Scott 2021-03-24

    What is going on is the result of Noem being a part time governor the past 9 months. Noem and her advisors are spending time trying to get Noem national publicity via TV appearance, speaking engagements and meetings with people whom she thinks can help further her political career. The legislators could of curtailed this by limiting the governors office budget and making her responsible for her security costs when she is out of state on these trips, but they did not.

    So now we have a governor that is scrambling to try to overcome the fact she has NOT been on the job the past few months.

  17. jake 2021-03-26

    Governance doesn’t seem to fit the new Republican Party anymore. Their leaders eyes are on their own glory and existence-not on the people over who they are supposed to govern!
    Also, SO prominent among them (as we all seen on Jan 6th) are all those who can.t stand to be governed-who HATE government with a passion!

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