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Strengthening Families

Strong families have always been the backbone of South Dakota. The kitchen table is where we learn our values.  The backyard is where we learn to respect each other. The bedroom is where we learn how to pray.

President Reagan once said this: “Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms.” Today, more than ever, it’s important we work to strengthen families, which is why I’m committed to being a family-first governor, fighting to strengthen the family unit and preserve the values South Dakotans have long embraced.

As governor, I have the opportunity to support and create legislation that can create real opportunities for folks throughout South Dakota. July 1 marks a milestone where most bills I signed become law, and I’m proud of the ways we’re using legislation to strengthen families.

One bill going into effect will empower each family’s decisions for education by leveling the playing field for homeschool students. Prior to this legislation, kids who were homeschooled would have to score a 28 on the ACT to qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship. The legislation I signed lowers that required score to a 24 – the same score required for public and private school students who apply for the same scholarship. This bill gives all kids an equal shot at the tools they need for higher education.

Another bill going into effect will streamline the licensing process for military members and their spouses. More than 20 percent of military spouses say that one of their biggest challenges is licensing regulations. The slow process can harm families financially while also slowing military transfers. This bill fast-tracks the licensing process; it lets their experience count so it’s easier to work. This is one way we can support our troops – and the families that stand behind them.

Furthermore, because I recognize that strong families are key to a stronger future, I’ve committed to using my microphone and my influence to educate people about the need for more foster families. I’m confident that South Dakota can be a leader to our nation in how we help kids who are the most vulnerable. Every child deserves love, every child deserves a family, and every child deserves a home.

Strengthening families is a key element to every decision I make as governor, and I’m committed to keeping it at the center. Because strong families create strong communities. And strong communities create a stronger South Dakota.