Elevate Rapid City Luncheon highlights area, state issues as legislative period approaches

The luncheon, hosted by Elevate Rapid City, gave community members the opportunity to put legislators on the spot about current issues one week before the state budget address from Governor Kristi Noem. 

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Governor Kristi Noem is set to give her annual budget address next week.

Elevate Luncheon 6Then lawmakers will head to Pierre in January for the legislative session and before the busy time begins, Rapid City community members got a chance to voice their concerns with legislators on Thursday at a Critical Issue Luncheon.

At the luncheon, issues in the community were addressed. It was also announced that the latest unemployment numbers were record-breaking for Rapid City, but in a good way.

“Last month we set a record for unemployment. It’s the lowest in Rapid City’s history,” said Tom Johnson, the President & CEO of Elevate Rapid City. “It was 2.3 (percent). I thought, well, that’s that’s interesting. I just got the latest numbers, it’s 1.8 (percent.)”

The luncheon gave community members the opportunity to put legislators on the spot about current issues one week before the state budget address from Governor Kristi Noem.

 

“I want to get feedback from from the business people in the community on what they heard in the governor’s budget address because that kind of sets the tone and the stage for the legislative session,” said State District 34 Representative Mike Derby.

Legislators were even asked about future bills they’ll propose at the next legislative session.

Bills like that of State Senator Helene Duhamel’s water pipeline proposal which will allocate as much as $2 billion to bring water from the Missouri River to western South Dakota.

It mirrors a proposal of the Lewis and Clark water system that will feed water to the eastern part of the state.

“It’s about parity,” said Duhamel. “It’s about fairness, and we’re frankly more drive more arid. We need water maybe more desperately, so I would hope that we get support from our east river legislators.”

Rep. Derby’s bill aims to create a connection trail from Hill City to Mount Rushmore using the Mickelson Trail.

“To expand it, to go to our icon M0unt Rushmore, national treasurer, national monument from Hill City, which is a very active tourism market is, I believe a game changer,” Derby said.

Further bills look to negate past bills that created tax shifts on ranchers land.

“It might mean that we have to spread the taxes out a little bit, but if we’re going to consistently say that we are an agricultural state that we support our producers, then we have to show it,” said State Senator Jessica Castleberry, who represents District 35. “We can’t just say it.”

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