South Dakota ready to strike ‘he’ from the state Constitution

Gov. Kristi Noem gives her 2023 State of the State address.
Gov. Kristi Noem gives her 2023 State of the State address.(Dakota News Now)
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 3:47 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - As legislation, it isn’t earth-shattering but there is a point to it – gender doesn’t qualify you to be governor. It doesn’t disqualify you either.

Thursday, South Dakota state House Rep. Jess Olson (R-34) and Sen. Erin Tobin (R-21) announced both HB 1175 and SJR 505 to clear up that little detail. The bill and constitutional amendment change references to the governor and other officials in state statute and the South Dakota Constitution to reflect this fact.

Surprisingly, the governor was always referred to as “he” in state statute, even during Gov. Kristi Noem’s first administration. However, Noem opened her 2023 State of the State address by pointing this out, suggesting that should be fixed since South Dakota finally had its first female governor.

HB 1175 amends instances in state statute that refer to the Governor of South Dakota as “he” to now read “the Governor.” Similar changes are made for other state officials. SJR 505 makes the same changes in the South Dakota Constitution.

“We have a long history of strong female leaders in South Dakota,” said Representative Olson. “It’s time for our laws and Constitution to reflect the leaders that the people of South Dakota have elected to represent them.”

“Just over 100 years after women obtained the right to vote in South Dakota, we are finally coming forward with this language change,” said Senator Tobin. “I am excited to work with our first woman governor on this. My daughter will never have to question her place at the table because of this positive legislation.”