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President Trump rattles the Middle East, saying the U.S. will recognize Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights. Also on our Friday rundown: A judge blocks laws limiting the power of the new Wisconsin governor. Plus, momentum builds across party lines to abolish the death penalty.

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New SD Governor Promises to Expand Economy, Broadband Access

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says the state's economy has "fallen behind in recent years," and thinks reducing regulations and taxes on small businesses would help change that. (grist.org)
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says the state's economy has "fallen behind in recent years," and thinks reducing regulations and taxes on small businesses would help change that. (grist.org)
January 9, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota's new governor wants to kick-start the state's economy, and believes greater access to broadband would help more residents be part of that goal.

Kristi Noem, a Republican, is the first woman to lead the state as governor. In her "State of the State" address on Tuesday, she recognized South Dakota's widespread lack of broadband access in rural areas and vowed to keep working to overcome those hurdles.

"As I see it, this is a statewide South Dakota issue, not just an 'urban versus rural' issue," she said. "It's a South Dakota issue because the small communities and rural areas near Watertown or Huron provide customers and members of the workforce for those larger communities."

Noem plans to bring industry leaders together to discuss the broadband issue as a first step in the process. On the subject of education, she said, the state needs to provide more career counseling for students, starting in middle school.

Noem also wants to create programs that would prepare students for careers through work experience and will advocate for a "Week of Work" that gets high school students out of the classroom to experience a day on the job. However, she said, earning a wage isn't enough.

"Civics needs to re-emerge, from grade school to the universities," she said. "This year as a first step, I will be bringing legislation to require that every high school graduate be able to pass the United States' citizenship exam."

American Indians make up nearly 9 percent of South Dakota's population, and Noem said she is eager to work with the state's tribes.

"The economy in Indian country needs focus as well," she said. "There are many challenges today for tribes. I'm looking to build relationships and partnerships. We can do new and exciting things with them in many areas - education, law and order, economic development."

An avid pheasant hunter, Noem also pledged to improve the birds' habitat to reverse its dwindling population, which has fallen 65 percent in the past decade.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD