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Biography

Kristi Noem (American politician) Bio, Facts. 

Kristi Noem
Born name: Kristi Lynn Arnold
Date of Birth: November 30, 1971
Place of Birth: Watertown, South Dakota, United States
Political party: Republican
Spouse(s): Bryon Noem (m. 1992)
Children: Kassidy Noem, Kennedy Noem, Booker Noem
Residence: Governor's Residence
Education: South Dakota State University (2011), Northern State University (1990–1992), Mount Marty University
Kristi Lynn Noem (November 30, 1971) is an American politician serving as the 33rd and current governor of South Dakota since January 5, 2019. A member of the Republican Party, she was the U.S. Representative for South Dakota's at-large congressional district from 2011 to 2019 and a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. Noem was elected governor in 2018 and is South Dakota's first female governor.

Early life and education
Kristi Arnold was born to Ron and Corinne Arnold in Watertown, South Dakota, and raised with her siblings on the family ranch and farm in rural Hamlin County. She graduated from Hamlin High School in 1990, and won the South Dakota Snow Queen title. She credited the experience with helping her polish her public speaking and promotional skills. After high school, she enrolled at Northern State University. She married Bryon Noem at age 20.

At 22, Noem left college to help run her family's ranch after her father was killed in a farm machinery accident. Noem added a hunting lodge and restaurant to the property, and all her siblings moved back to help expand the businesses.

After her father's death, Noem stopped attending college full time but subsequently took classes at the Watertown campus of Mount Marty College and at South Dakota State University and online classes from the University of South Dakota.

After being elected to Congress, Noem continued her education, taking online courses and receiving credits for her work as a representative, leading The Washington Post to facetiously dub her Capitol Hill's "most powerful intern" for being in her powerful government position while being an intern. She earned a B.A. in political science from South Dakota State University in 2012.

South Dakota House of Representatives
In 2006, Noem won a seat in the South Dakota House of Representatives representing the 6th District (comprising parts of Beadle, Clark, Codington, Hamlin, and Kingsbury counties, but not including Watertown). In 2006, she won with 39% of the vote. In 2008, she was reelected to a second term with a plurality of 41%.

Noem served for four years, from 2007 to 2010; she was an Assistant Majority Leader during her last year. In 2009 and 2010 she sponsored bills to lower the age of compulsory education in South Dakota to 16, after it had been raised to 18 in 2008, arguing that requiring school attendance until age 18 has not been proven to improve graduation rates. Supporters of the higher age argue that it increases graduation rates and motivates students who would otherwise drop out.

She was on the State Affairs Committee and Taxation Committee

U.S. House of Representatives
Elections
2010
In 2010, Noem ran for South Dakota's at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She won the Republican primary with a plurality of 42% of the vote against South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson and State Representative Blake Curd. Her primary opponents endorsed her in the general election.

Noem's opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, emphasized her own record of independence from the Democratic caucus, including her votes against health care reform, the Wall Street bailouts, and the cap-and-trade energy bill. In response, Noem repeatedly highlighted Herseth Sandlin's vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. According to The Washington Post, "Nationally, Herseth Sandlin [was] considered a rising star in her party, the Democrats' own "mama grizzly" straight out of the heartland [...] but, 2010 is a different time, and Herseth Sandlin, 39, faces her most serious threat yet. Noem, 38, is ... a made-for-Fox News star in her own right." During the 2010 election cycle, Noem outraised Herseth Sandlin, $2.3 million to $2.1 million. Noem received 84% of her cash from individual donors while Herseth Sandlin received 56% from political action committees. Noem defeated Herseth Sandlin, 48% to 46%.

2012
Noem was reelected to a second term, defeating Democrat Matthew Varilek, 57%–43%.

2014
Noem was reelected to a third term, defeating Democrat Corinna Robinson, 67%–33%.

2016
Noem was reelected to a fourth term, defeating Democrat Paula Hawks, 64%–36%.

Tenure
Noem was the fourth woman to represent South Dakota in the U.S. Congress. She and freshman U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina were elected by acclamation of the 2011 House Republican 87-member freshman class to be liaisons to the House Republican leadership, making Noem the second woman member of House GOP leadership. According to The Hill, her role was to push the leadership to make significant cuts to federal government spending and to help Speaker John Boehner manage the expectations of the freshman class. In March 2011, Republican U.S. Representative Pete Sessions of Texas named Noem one of the 12 regional directors for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2012 election campaign.

Taxes
In 2018, Noem was reported to have "pitched the idea to members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus" to attach her online sales tax bill to the government funding package as part of an omnibus. A court case under consideration in the South Dakota Supreme Court involved requiring "certain out-of-state retailers to collect its sales taxes." Noem said that South Dakota businesses (and by extension businesses nationwide) "could be forced to comply with 1,000 different tax structures nationwide without the tools necessary to do so", adding that her legislation "provides a necessary fix."

Noem called the budget deficit one of the most important issues facing Congress, and cosponsored H. J. Res. 2, which would require that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts. She cited the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, high-speed rail projects, cap-and-trade technical assistance, and subsidies for the Washington Metro rapid transit system as examples of federal programs she would like to see cuts in.

She indicated that she would vote to raise the federal spending limit, and wanted to eliminate the estate tax, lower the corporate tax rate, and simplify the tax code. She also said she would not raise taxes to balance the budget.

Human trafficking
Noem promoted legislation to combat human trafficking and sexual slavery.

Health care
Noem opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and has voted to repeal it. Having unsuccessfully sought to repeal the law, she has sought to defund it while retaining measures such as the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the provision allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance plan into their 20s, and the high-risk pools. New provisions that Noem wanted to add to federal law included limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and allowing patients to buy health insurance plans from other states. She supported cuts to Medicaid funding proposed by Republican Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan that would reduce benefits for South Dakota Medicaid recipients by 55 percent.

Social issues
Noem is pro-life. She has the support of Susan B. Anthony List, and said after her election that she hoped to maintain a 100% anti-abortion voting record.

Energy and environment
Noem has said that the U.S. must end its dependence on foreign oil. To achieve that goal, Noem says Congress should encourage conservation of existing resources. She supports continuing ethanol subsidies that benefit her state. Noem opposes ending federal subsidies for oil companies.

Noem supported the Keystone XL Pipeline and promised to continue to work for its construction after the U.S. Senate voted down legislation to advance the pipeline through Congress. Noem helped the House pass the legislation on November 14, 2014.

Noem opposed a bill introduced by South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson that would designate over 48,000 acres (190 km2) of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland as protected wilderness. She supports the current designation of the land as a national grassland. She pointed out that the land is already managed as roadless areas similar to wilderness and argued that changing the land's designation to wilderness would further limit leaseholder access to the land and imperil grazing rights.

Noem supports off-shore oil drilling. She co-sponsored three bills that she argued would reduce American dependence on foreign oil by ending the 2010 United States deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico and reopening sales on oil leases in the Gulf and off the coast of Virginia.

In 2011, Noem sponsored a measure to block Environmental Protection Agency funding for tighter air pollution standards for coarse particulates.

Foreign affairs
Noem supported the American military intervention in the 2011 Libyan civil war, but questioned whether America intervened to protect civilians, or whether the U.S. military would try to remove Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi. In March 2011, Noem called on Obama to provide more information about America's role in the conflict, characterizing his statements as vague and ambiguous.

Fundraising
Since her election, Noem raised 56 percent of donations from individuals and 44 percent from political action committees. On March 8, 2011, she announced the formation of a leadership political action committee, KRISTI PAC. Noem said she would use the PAC to pay expenses and support other Republican candidates. Former South Dakota Lieutenant Governor Steve Kirby is the treasurer of the PAC.

Noem was among the top freshman Republicans in PAC fundraising in the first quarter of 2011, raising $169,000 from PACs and hosting at least 10 Washington fundraisers. She said she had no plans to join the House Tea Party Caucus.

Immigrants and refugees
Noem supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order that suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and banned all travel to the U.S. by nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. She said she supported a temporary ban on accepting refugees from "terrorist-held" areas, but "did not address whether she supports other aspects of the order, which led to the detention of legal U.S. residents such as green-card holders and people with dual citizenship as they reentered the country" in the aftermath of the order's issuance.

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Ways and Means
  • Subcommittee on Human Resources
  • Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures

Caucus memberships

  • Republican Study Committee
  • Congressional Cement Caucus
  • Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Afterschool Caucuses
  • Congressional Western Caucus

Governor of South Dakota
2018 election
On November 14, 2016, Noem announced that she would not seek reelection to Congress but instead run for governor of South Dakota in 2018. She defeated incumbent South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley in the June 5 primary, 56% to 44%, and defeated Democratic nominee Billie Sutton in the general election, 51% to 47.6%.

Tenure
Noem was sworn in as governor of South Dakota on January 5, 2019. She is the first woman in South Dakota history to hold that office.

Concealed carry
On January 31, 2019, Noem signed a bill into law abolishing the permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun. On March 20, 2019, she signed a bill into law requiring South Dakota's state universities to promote and protect intellectual diversity, and on that same day, she signed several bills restricting abortion. Noem said the bills would "crack down on abortion providers in South Dakota" by requiring providers to use a state form women must sign before they can end a pregnancy. She also said, "A strong and growing body of medical research provides evidence that unborn babies can feel, think, and recognize sounds in the womb. These are people, they must be given the same basic dignities as anyone else."

Trade
In February 2019, she said that the Trump administration's trade wars had devastated South Dakota.

"Meth, We're On It" Campaign
On November 18, 2019, Noem released a new meth awareness campaign named "Meth, We're On It". The campaign was widely mocked and Noem was criticized for using a Minnesota firm.

Coronavirus pandemic
As of April 14, 2020, Noem was one of seven governors who had not issued statewide stay-at-home orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; instead, she has emphasized her state's role in evaluating hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, as a treatment for COVID-19 and has been heavily promoted by President Trump. South Dakota's governor resisted ordering people to stay home. After 800 cases hit a pork production plant, Noem pointed out that this production facility was in full operation as an essential food manufacturing facility. On April 6, she issued an executive order that said people "shall" follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; she also ordered everyone over age 65 in two counties to stay home for three weeks.

Noem did not mandate social distancing or the wearing of face masks at a July 3 event at Mount Rushmore that featured President Trump. Health experts warned that large gatherings without social distancing or mask-wearing posed a risk to public health.

Presidential elector
On June 20, 2020, at the Republican State Convention, Noem was chosen to be one of South Dakota's three Republican presidential electors, along with Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

Controversies
Governor's mansion fence
Noem proposed to build a fence around the governor's mansion for approximately $400,000. The proposal was not well-received and she eventually retracted it. On August 12, 2020, it was announced that Noem would again be moving forward with putting a fence around the governor's residence, following her security team's advice.

Hiring family members
Noem hired her daughter, Kennedy, while still in college and then raised her annual salary from $40,000 to $60,000 in the first year. Noem's administration also hired her son-in-law Kyle Peters for about $60,000 per year.

Personal life
Noem lives with her husband and their three children on the Racota Valley Ranch near Castlewood. As of 2009, she had a 16.9% ownership stake in the ranch, which received $4.12 million in subsidies between 1995 and 2019. Her recreational interests include hunting.

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