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Senator Tries Sneaking $2.5M for Rapid City Gun Range into Garretson Golf Course Road Bill

Yesterday I said it took three tries to kill state funding for Governor Kristi Noem’s Rapid City shooting range. I spoke too soon: gun advocates in the House tried a fourth time yesterday to shake $2.5 million in tax dollars loose to build the $12-million bang-bang-o-plex in Meade County.

A six-man conference committee met yesterday to hash out House and Senate differences over House Bill 1166, occasional socialist Representative Tom Pischke’s (R-25/Dell Rapids) effort to snag a million bucks to improve 485th Street from Highway 11 on the southwest edge of Garretson to the former entrance into Palisades State Park between 255th and 256th Street. That road also happens to lead to the River Ridge Golf Course and some nice houses on Fairway Circle. HB 1166 has bounced between appropriations directly to the Department of Transportation to do the work to a $200,000 to Game Fish and Parks to support a grant with matching funds to fix the road.

But Senator David Johnson (R-33/Hisega) brought a second-subject surprise to conference. He tried to shoehorn into HB 1166 the $2.5 million in general funds and $2.5 million in other fund spending authority that the defeated Senate Bill 175 and House Bill 1049 had sought for the Rapid City shooting range.

Building a new shooting range and repaving an existing public road, two projects 365 miles apart—what ever happened to the single-subject rule?

Mindful of the South Dakota Constitution’s edict that “No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title,” Senator Johnson demonstrated the infinite malleability of that edict by proposing that the title be changed from “make an appropriation for road improvements leading to the former entrance into the Palisades State Park” to “make an appropriation for supporting and improving recreational opportunities in this state.”

Conference committee member Senator John Wiik (R-4/Big Stone City) seconded Senator Johnson’s amendment. But Representative Pischke was having none of this second-subject logrolling, and neither were his Republican Dell Rapids colleagues Representative Jon Hansen and Senator Marsha Symens nor Democratic Representative Oren Lesmeister (D-28A/Parade): they killed the shooting range amendment.

Denied their gun range, Johnson moved and Wiik seconded to let HB 1166 die without concurrence or a new conference committee. Hansen, Symens, and Lesmeister all said, enough already, and let Pischke’s golf-course road die.

The Rapid City shooting range itself isn’t dead, just an immediate infusion of cash from the general fund. Game Fish and Parks still intends to build the facility with existing spending authority and donations, which is one of the reasons legislators felt this additional $2.5M in taxpayer dollars is unnecessary. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still taking public comment on the draft environmental impact study on the facility that I reported on a couple weeks ago. USFWS has extended the comment deadline four days, from March 20 to March 24.

So more than likely, in a year or two, the peaceful grazing of Matt Kammerer’s critters will be disrupted by the gleeful free fire of gun nuts from all over, plus a lot more dusty traffic up and down Elk Vale Road. But at least we won’t have our tax dollars to blame… unless Senator Johnson tries sneaking something into the budget bill coming out today!


  1. larry kurtz 2022-03-10

    Having a property where the air space is often filled with the roar of afterburners and the stench of jet fuel exhaust must be bad enough so add the racket of small arms fire and increased traffic in a tornado prone microclimate then understand why the suicide rate West River is elevated.

  2. Curt 2022-03-10

    It’s how the sausage gets made.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-03-10

    Well..obviously, our gun lovers appetite for expending ammo cannot be sated without the Rapid City shooting range, the more elaborate, the better. The Black Hills right wing wackos must be served.

  4. Mark Anderson 2022-03-10

    You know, why not set up a gun range in the old mines in Lead. Who needs all that fancy smancy science stuff, their all elitist do gooders anyway. You could name one branch the Fauci fun way and you could aim at his head. No noise, no danger. Get the lead out South Dakota.

  5. jerry 2022-03-10

    I’d rather be Ukrainian than a republican. Just sayin, if these little varmints want to play guns, Ukraine awaits them. They can even try out their maneuvers on a live fire theater.

  6. V 2022-03-11

    I received the following survey invite from G F & P. I hope your readers will fill it out and perhaps pass it on.

    South Dakota State University and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks are working together for the 2022 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. With your help and insight, this project will help plan for future outdoor recreation opportunities in the state. They invite you to participate in their online survey which allows you to share your outdoor recreation experiences and perspectives in South Dakota. No matter where you participate in outdoor recreation or how often, your input will play an important role in the planning of future outdoor recreation opportunities in South Dakota.

    Survey link:

    All participants who fully complete the survey will have the chance to be entered into a random drawing for 100, $20 Amazon gift cards. They plan to do the drawing around mid-March 2022. Any questions regarding the survey or study please contact Dr. Stella Liu ( and/or Kiley Foss (

  7. RST Tribal Member 2022-03-11

    So this is South Dakota governance when their is a super majority of one party running the place. The inept inbred Republicans don’t need weed when they have pork.

    Thanks DFP for pointing out how the inept inbred Republicans’ legislative appropriation is designed to ingratiate legislators with their constituents not in the state but within the dumb doom. As American’s Governor is bunkered down in the state’s only 1 house gated community, with a sauna, waiting for word from 45 to act, her fellow Republicans are busy legislating women’s reproductive health, the mental health of transgender, the sporting competition and what to do about happy weed.

    Dang if today’s batch of fools were running Dakota Territory back in 1889 my tribe and others would still be enjoying the good life we had since time immemorial instead battling daily with colonialists and the goofy state government. But that is history not to be taught always to be repeated.

    One day, some day, any day maybe in November 2022 the tide will turn and balance will come to the state. Or Minnesota will annex the east, North Dakota the north, Kansas the south after annexing Nebraska leaving the west for guns, hockey and the rally.

    One wonders, when Putin loses to the Ukrainians and needs work if Fox News will situation him in Pierre at their SD outlet to help 45 and the Jan 6th freedom deniers? If 45 shows up Queen Bee could hang out her sign; geniuses at work.

    To do SD’s part for the war, we could send the SD Attorney General to the battlefield, put him in a car, give him a phone with a DFP link and head him toward Russia.

  8. Matthew k 2022-03-12

    What did Dave Johnson do for his constituents nothing he was to busy going against my representatives who could see no economic value of a shooting range in Meade co maybe he should remember who hired him and stay there trying to attach it to a bill at the end for a road in front of a golf course and rich man houses. What about something for hideaway hills. If gfp has soooo much money why do they always have there hand out wanting money from the people.

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