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Noem Used Ill-Defined Executive Order Power More Frequently Than Average in 2019 and 2020

Last week’s Legislative Executive Board meeting included discussion of a draft Issue Memorandum from the Legislative Research Council on executive orders. The LRC finds that the South Dakota Constitution doesn’t set a lot of parameters for executive orders, mentioning that executive power explicitly only once, in Article 4 Section 8 regarding reorganization of government (which Noem exercised this year in her burial of environmental regulation in the Department of Agriculture). The LRC also notes that Noem has flexed this ill-defined power far more frequently than other modern governors:

From 1973 to 2020, the South Dakota Legislature enacted more than 15,000 bills and South Dakota Governors issued almost 800 executive orders. Some governors issued as few as three orders per year while others issued as many as 42, with the average annual number being approximately 17….

The above-referenced 42 executive orders were issued by Governor M. Michael Rounds in 2010….

During her first year in office, Governor Kristi Noem issued 29 executive orders….

During 2020, Governor Noem issued 34 executive orders… [Legislative Research Council, draft Issue Memorandum: “Governor’s Executive Order Authority in South Dakota,” presented to Executive Board 2021.08.31].

For a politician who regularly expresses alarm at excessive exercise of executive power, Governor Noem has eagerly availed herself of South Dakota’s vaguely defined gubernatorial fiat. Perhaps she has caught herself in this seeming contradiction and pulled back on her Second-Floor unilateralism: with twelve executive orders issued so far in 2021, Noem is on pace to issue 17.5 executive orders this year, closer to the recent average.


  1. Eve Fisher 2021-09-08

    It makes her feel presidential.

  2. Guy 2021-09-08

    Is Noem running unopposed in 2022?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-08

    Guy, candidates can’t take out petitions unitl January 1. Noem didn’t announce her bid for Congress in 2010 until mid-February.

  4. Guy 2021-09-08

    That may be true but CONFIDENT candidates traditionally UNOFFICIALLY announce right before or after Labor Day the year prior to election.

  5. Guy 2021-09-08

    It’d would be to have some CONFIDENT candidates unofficially announce because all the whining and griping about Noem is not going to change anything unless she is defeated in next Year’s election.

  6. grudznick 2021-09-08

    I think Ms. Noem used this power, constitutionally given to her by, well, our founding fathers and mothers, less than most. But I just bet you a gravy laden breakfast that she’ll be whipping this out a lot more in the next two years. Get ready, you fellows in the legistures, for some real fixing of your messes. You can avoid this by paying more attention to the lobbists so you get stuff right the first time.

  7. Guy 2021-09-08

    Grudz, this is my opinion of Kristi. I think she is actually a very insecure person although she tries to sell herself as a “strong and secure” person. Why do I say this? I’m making a judgement call based off her “attention-seeking” nature. It seems Kristi has to insert herself into the news almost everyday. What I mean by “insert” is that Kristi either releases an official statement or posts a tweet almost daily about numerous issues out there. Now, it would be one thing if she did this just to share her view or give an official response. But, I believe she is doing this to keep attention on herself and campaigning for her next role she perceives she will eventually be: “President of the United States”. Kristi has claimed she is not interested in seeking the presidency, but, we all know that is a lie because it that were truly the case, Kristi would not be spending her time, our time on our dime to fly in the state plane across the nation to fundraise for national political action committee. Kristi seems to have this obsession with wanting to be noticed on a daily basis by any means possible. A truly secure person, in themselves and what they are doing, does not have to constantly put themselves out there 24/7 to grab headlines and make photo-ops.

  8. John Dale 2021-09-09

    The number of executive orders issued would be proportional to the number of issues requiring that mitigation coming strategically in between sessions of the legislature.

    It’s an emergency response.

    We had a few of those emergencies.

    Having one now.

  9. kurtz 2021-09-09

    New Mexico is one of only 13 states to have implemented some kind of public financing system and the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe have adopted the rules. The state’s legislators are unpaid and until 2018 was one of just eight states without an independent ethics commission but South Dakota Republicans see ethics as a burden on Pierre’s culture of corruption.

    The Council for National Policy has infiltrated Pierre and the extremist South Dakota Legislature because banks in my home state are hoarding nearly $4 TRILLION for its members including Robert Mercer, a Long Island hedge-fund manager who bankrolled Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns. It’s important to note Kristi doesn’t write her tweets – they’re generated by her political campaign. Like Trump she’s using her post to milk the prosperity gospel for every penny she can hustle.

    Kristi Noem is a unitary executive who is also a graduate of the Koch Brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, an anti-think tank think tank that teaches how wedge issues raise campaign dollars for the nut wing of the Republican Party. Her campaign dollars come from white christianists like the Family Heritage Alliance, the LGBT-bashing Family Research Council and especially the hate group that calls itself Alliance Defending Freedom.

    The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it’s all about the money prostitution, the Sturgis Rally, policing for profit, sex trafficking, hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the South Dakota Republican Party destroying lives, depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.

  10. John Dale 2021-09-09

    Termination of baby humans is reprehensible.

    Go ahead and try to defend it.

    I’ll wait.

  11. John Dale 2021-09-09

    Actually, termination of baby humans is more deplorable than reprehensible, but both terms apply.

  12. kurtz 2021-09-09

    1. A pregnant woman is the patient.

    2. Ectopic pregnancies kill women.

    3. Rich women have full reproductive rights while women at the lower income margins suffer chilling effects on those rights. Women in Texas, Wyoming and South Dakota who can afford it simply jump on a plane and fly to Albuquerque, Minneapolis, Denver or elsewhere for their procedures. Imagine a woman on the Standing Rock or Pine Ridge doing that.

    4. South Dakota’s repeated attempts to restrict access to medical care are not only mean-spirited, they’re discriminatory anti-choice extremism.

    5. “Pro-life” is simply code for white people breeding. African-Americans terminate pregnancies at about the same per capita rate as white people do but don’t take their jobs. Latinas, however, have fewer abortions per capita but the extreme white wing laments it’s hemorrhaging jobs to Latinos.

    6. No foetus in the United States has any civil rights until the third trimester. Republicans preach civil rights for human zygotes but deny the protections of the First, Fourth and Ninth Amendments to people who enjoy cannabis.

    7. Abortion is health care and ending reproductive rights in red states is Balkanizing women’s medical care.

    8. An acorn is not an oak tree so a foetus is no more an unborn child than it is an unborn grandparent.

    According to SD News Watch 132 South Dakota women traveled to Nebraska for their procedures last year, 152 women scheduled in Minnesota, ten women went to North Dakota, 123 South Dakota women found care in Colorado and Iowa saw a jump of at least 200 out of state women who sought medical care that South Dakota refuses to provide.

    New Mexico is the political inverse of my home state. It’s where if the lopsided Supreme Court of the United States ultimately overturns Roe v. Wade women will still be free to exercise their reproductive rights because Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act that repealed the 1969 state statute banning abortion. In New Mexico Medicaid covers abortions and even transportation in rural areas to get to clinics in Albuquerque.

    Now, red state governors have announced plans to compel even more women to go out of state for their procedures. These actions are not only the way the extreme white wing of the Republican Party raises money it’s designed to break Planned Parenthood in red states and drive abortions even further underground.

  13. O 2021-09-09

    John Dale, if I agree with your premise for a moment (that abortion should be criminalized), why criminalize that action for only the expectant mother? Why has there been NO advocacy from your camp for the father to share in this criminal liability? It seems the GOP/Conservatives want to lash out against the mother, the doctor, anyone who “aids or abets” the mother, but absolutely NOTHING for consequences for the sperm supplier.

    So even on-face, your advocacy is a nasty misogynistic attack for singling out only women in pregnancy responsibility.

  14. mike from iowa 2021-09-09

    Termination of poor women’s babies is what is reprehensible to magats. Rich women get a free pass, right magat rabbit hole refugee?

    Magats are not intelligent. If they were they would realize abortion is the one avenue of vote suppression they could get away with without dissent from anyone else. But, alas, magats be infernally stoopid.

    If magats were smart, they’d be demanding abortion be mandatory for all poors and immigrants. Imagine the number of anchor baby, potential Democratic voters they could nip in the bud.

  15. mike from iowa 2021-09-09

    Some few years ago, drumpf properties in Florida were being rented by rich Rooshians so their unborn brats could be born as American citizens, all the while drumpf was pissing and moaning about anchor babies of color.

    Typical selective magat outrage.

  16. bearcreekbat 2021-09-09

    I have seen assertions like this often:

    Termination of baby humans is reprehensible.

    Go ahead and try to defend it.

    I’ll wait.

    This is obviously a rhetorical assertion as no one advocates killing “baby humans.” But in the context of abortion it appears the assertion assumes a definition of “baby human” that includes either all (such as an unfertilized sperm cell or egg), or a portion of, (such as a zygote and blastocyt up to a fetus) the unborn. Presumably the assertion is designed to support using government force to stop a woman from terminating an unwanted pregnancy.

    This expanded definition of “baby human,” along with the goal of using governmental power to force women to submit their bodies in an unwanted pregnancy to the needs of the unborn, supports a contrary assertion, with no obvious answer justifying the objectionable conduct:

    Termination of a woman’s right to decide who and when another person can use the inside of her body is reprehensible

    Go ahead and try to defend it.

    I’ll wait.

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