Nearly two years ago, I became aware of a problem with our state’s criminal justice system. I learned South Dakota’s imprisonment rate was higher than any of its six neighboring states. Per capita, we were locking up 75 percent more men than North Dakota and four times as many women as Minnesota. Maintaining the status quo would mean building a new women’s prison and a new men’s prison within the next 10 years.
I wanted a kayak. It was a simple request I repeated repeatedly. I talked about how we would go kayaking this summer on the lake. We’d have a blast making family memories while building our triceps and getting a tan. I communicated as clearly as I could, in English, which is the language they speak. I wanted a kayak. They got me a blender. There was a reason for their actions. They like smoothies. And, despite the allure of a sleek kayak cutting through the cool, clear water, it was a distant vision. In my climate zone, you can’t kayak in the winter. You have to wait until summer. Smoothies are available all times of the year – for those with the machinery to make them. Months of waiting for warm weather or immediate gratification: the choice was obvious.
There’s something so satisfying about getting out of bed when the world is still dark and quiet and resting. Making the coffee gives us time to scratch and think. Well, scratch, anyway. Most of that thinking will start after about the third cup. But it’s a quiet time. A private time. When the world is dark, and there isn’t yet a hint of pink over the eastern mountains, it’s very good. We can relax. No one is expecting anything from us right now. Our guilt can take some time off, and we can listen to music or work a crossword puzzle or turn on the TV and watch the weather guy discuss millibars and troughs.
I’ve served in the Legislature for many years now and each session has its own rewards and challenges. Each day as I serve, I work to represent what I believe to be our commonly shared values of fairness, equality, and opportunity for all people. If our state is to progress, we must endeavor to advance all of our citizens and especially invest in the future of our state - our children and grandchildren.
In recent months, a number of news stories have been written about alleged wrongdoing by a former employee of the state economic development office. I called for an investigation into this matter last spring, and released the Attorney General's report of his findings in the fall. We have also continued to aid the federal investigation into this wrongdoing.
At the tail end of last year the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug that may cure some three million Americans who have hepatitis C, a disease that interferes with liver function and can eventually lead to liver cancer. It's a serious illness; many people don't know they have it until the first symptoms show up years later, and those who do have it undergo
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who bake homemade cookies, and those who eat them. Sadly, I think those in the first group are in danger of extinction. Not many people take the time to bake cookies anymore.
The snow was piled deep in our small pastures, and it would be at least two to three months more before it started to diminish. It was at this time that our cow decided she wanted to make a break from her mini corral. I was out working in our barn, and had left the door open. The door is not wide, and the cow is majorly pregnant. I hadn’t worried about shutting the door because, at this point in her life, she is about twice as wide as the doorway. But her attitude about the long winter increased her determination for freedom. Somehow, while I was working on filling her water tank, she managed to squeeze her way out.
As a father of four, I have shared the responsibility for raising now-adult kids with a marvelous spouse, and also with a community of relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, church counselors, doctors, and so on. Certainly the parenting experience has, for me, been one of the most challenging and yet rewarding of life experiences, and the love, joy, and worry doesn't change as these kids grow up. I remember hearing my Dad utter a similar comment.