07 April 2022

Due Diligence in South Dakota

The South Dakota State Legislature has finally wound to a close. Lot of drama. Lot of culture war bills, which, as usual, took up the first 2 months of the session, leaving the truly important stuff - like the State Budget - until the last freaking week. 

There was also a lot of feuding between our Governor and the legislators, culminating in 3 gubernatorial vetoes of bills which the legislature wanted: oversight of all the latest in Federal dollars coming to SD, a bill allowing pregnant minors to give consent for prenatal and maternity care *, and a bill that would allow marijuana misdemeanors to be automatically expunged after 5 years from someone's record.  

* MY NOTE: So much for pro-life, right? Our Governor's reason for vetoing the bill was that "Parents' constitutional rights include the right to care, custody, and control of their children. That includes the right to make healthcare decisions for their child." (HERE) And what if they make terrible ones, Governor? What if they're the worst parents in the world?

But the Legislature declined to even try to override each veto.

Instead, the House Select Committee's response was to vote against recommending the impeachment of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for killing Joe Boever in an automobile accident. (HERE) Governor Noem has been pushing for Ravnsborg to resign or be impeached from the get-go.)

It was all classic South Dakota passive-aggressive. 

Speaking of passive-aggressive, I've mentioned before that we have and are having an influx of Blue State Refugees (BSRs) - and some Red State Refugees (apparently Missouri is getting expensive) - that has made for some interesting dynamics. For one thing, these BSRs do not practice passive-aggressive. Nor do they do due diligence, as far as I can tell.  

Officer Grant Tripp has told me some of the tales from Laskin, SD. A lot of BSRs have moved there, drawn to it for freedom, rural values, cheap prices, clean air, and the right to do whatever they want:

They see these ads for houses, you know - 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, new furnace, $75,000, and they think hey, it's the deal of the century. Which, compared to where they're coming from, it is. Only they don't bother to ask why it's got a new furnace. Why they all have new furnaces. We all know it's because it's on the flood plain, and we've had two 100 year floods in 20 years, and the third is due any time we get another 5 inches of rain in 5 hours. In other words, probably next year or so.  And so they buy it and move in, and go around moaning about the smell of mold and mildew down in the basement. Well, guess what?  You really should take a sniff of a basement before you buy it, at least in my book. 

And then there's all those cheap slab constructions that Lars Opdahl put up south of the tracks, you remember? Well, he had them as rentals, because no South Dakotan is going to buy slab construction, because you need a basement for tornadoes in the summer and insulation and storage in the winter. But these people snap them right up. No questions asked. And then they bitch and moan about freezing to death all winter. Not to mention their pipes freeze and then burst.

And that leads to the bitching and moaning about the heating bills, which are high. One guy told me, 'I pay more in utility bills here than I did in _____ !'  Well yeah, you're in a small town now, and most small towns get most of their money from electric and sewer and water bills, because there's not a large tax base.

'And they tax everything!'

Yep. South Dakota state sales and use taxes are 4.5%, and every community's tacked on a municipal tax rate, too. Some places are as much as 6.5%.  Look, we don't have an income tax in South Dakota, but you still need to get the money from somewhere to run counties, towns, cities, and the state. So we have high property taxes, sales tax on everything, and use tax on everything but concealed carry permits. It costs more to live up here than you might think. An income tax would probably be a lot cheaper.

The other complaint, of course, is that there's nothing to do in Laskin, as if it's a national tourist center or a big city:

'There's no shopping! 

'The movie theater's so small, and it shows the same damn movie all week, and no matinees!

'And the casinos - they're just dive bars with slot machines! 

'And the restaurants - there's no variety. Just fast food and a few cafes.'

What did you expect in a county of less than 10,000 people?  And it could be worse. You could move out to one of the really small towns in South Dakota, population under 500. There all you'd have is a post office, and a bar, which at least will serve chislic and burgers with the beer. You want more variety? Do what the rest of us do, go to the nearest big city once a week or so and stock up, and have a nice dinner before you drive home.  

Oh, and they're shocked there's so much crime. Yeah. Well, guess what, there's meth in Mayberry these days, along with fentanyl-laced heroin. I-90 is a major drug corridor that runs from the Pacific to the Atlantic and right through South Dakota. 

I heard about some Blue State Refugee guys who were hired as cops in Rapid City, and they were shocked, shocked, shocked! that there wasn't much in the way of cheap housing. Really? They didn't notice Ellsworth Airforce Base? And the Black Hills, Sturgis, and other major tourist centers? And then they found out about gangs. And drugs. And a high murder rate.  Back in 2019, the crime rate in Rapid City, SD was higher than in 92.2% of U.S. cities. It hasn't gotten better. And Sioux Falls' crime rate was higher than in 83.1% U.S. cities."  (HERE)

Another fun thing is their sudden concern for the environment, as in 'Isn't there anything they can do about the feed lots? That smell...'  Nope. Just thank God you don't live by a CAFO (that's Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) of hogs.  Oh, and that stinky green stuff in the lake is agricultural runoff. Nitrates and phosphates. Fertilizer. You know. Agriculture and tourism, our two biggest industries.

'Why do you live here?'

Well, most of us were born here. All our friends and family are around here. You can, or at least could, always count on your neighbors to help out in a crisis. And living in a small town has a lot of advantages:  It's quiet. (In other words, tone it down, folks.) There's a slower pace of life. (Slow down. Quit driving 50 on 20 mph roads.) And good manners. Or at least that's how it used to be...** And when you really want to get away from it all, there's lots of wide open spaces, especially West River. Nothing but grasslands as far as the eye can see. Just sit and listen to your own heart beating…

Think about it: If you want to change South Dakota to the place you left, then why did you leave? Why are you here?  

Thanks, Grant!  Say hi to Linda!

** Please stop yelling in stores and at city / county commission / school board meetings. [Example HERE]  That's not how we do things up here. At least, not until now... 


  1. Thanks, Janice! It's from the Badlands, one of my favorite National Parks.

  2. Good job Eve. I like the way you use Officer Grant Tripp, a character in your stories of Laskin in your mysteries to let us know what is really going on. (Very Clever) and let us know what is a BSR.

  3. Possibly Canaduffalo could give South Dakota a run for its money. This week a State Supreme Court justice, who was very close friends with someone in the mob, died by suicide. It was his second attempt. Also N.Y. state, which had a treaty with the Seneca Indians since 1842 which agreed they had no claim on certain income made by the Seneca on their own reservation, made a grab for over half a Billion Dollars & the very next day, committed over half of it to build a new football stadium across the street from the old one!

    1. Methinks that sounds suspicious, Elizabeth.

      Is there a Buffanada?

  4. I had no idea what chislic is. I had to look it up. Shish kebab without the kebab? Deep-fried red meat served with toothpicks and saltines? Do you eat the meat on crackers or much crackers afterward? It’s interesting how foods migrate to unexpected places.

    Florida experiences that effect of newcomers, especially those with money, moving in and changing what they found. Sometimes they raise the taxes so original Florida crackers can no longer afford to life here. Sometimes they rezone, condemn and expropriate properties. They’ve edged out farms and ranches by declaring farm animals and former northerners shouldn’t live side-by-side.

    Frankly Eve, I preferred the horses and cattle.

  5. Texas also has a lot of Blue State Refugees. They have been trying to turn Austin into San Francisco for the last five to ten years or so by creating the same circumstances that caused homeless camps on every corner out there around here. Homeless numbers skyrocketed and no one could use a park in Austin because they were all filled with tents. The locals and the state government finally started fighting back because the policies the BSR's implemented were helping no one and resolving nothing. Seriously, how does it help someone to say "Sleep where you want. We'll step over you"? Shelters, mental health resources, food, jobs, and mainly community are what they need! Thank goodness for locals starting Community First! Village and other programs that actually address people's needs. Bumper stickers that say "Don't California my Texas" are popular for a reason.
    We also have no income tax. But our sales tax is 6.25%, plus local taxes, so most places are at 8.25%. And property taxes fund the school system, so they are sky high.

  6. Yes, Anonymous, people who move to states because there's no income tax don't quite grasp that things have to be paid for, so other taxes are sky high. And you get fewer services for your money: you can tell the difference in state roads between South Dakota and Minnesota - Minnesota's are much better.

    Leigh, that's also what happened to Montana and all the Scenic West, rich folk moved in and priced everyone else out. It's happening here, too - locals can't afford to buy in Spearfish and the Black Hills anymore, because the newcomers are driving up the prices.


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