2017 certainly was a year for the history books. 2018 promises to be just as dynamic as the political, social and media landscape will continue to transform our lives in the year ahead.
The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency brought many changes to the nation, the biggest being the tax bill he signed into law Friday that is embraced by some and reviled by others. President Trump’s administration also has eliminated many regulations that have been characterized as burdensome by some and needed by others in the interest of public health, safety and commerce.
The president and Republican leaders now are looking at reforming entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The virtual elimination of Obamacare will likely have a big impact on health-insurance markets.
In South Dakota, voters have much to look forward to in 2018. The state will elect a new governor and U.S. House member and decide whether to support incumbents or fresh faces for a Legislature that last year decided not to implement the voter-approved Initiated Measure 22, which sought to reform campaign practices. Voters can expect more ballot measures in 2018, including ones that again challenge the status quo in Pierre.
Locally, Rapid City officials will be making their proposal to either replace or upgrade Barnett Arena in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Voters will get a chance on Feb. 20 to either endorse or reject a water rate increase of 43 percent over five years in a special election, which are notorious for low turnouts. The city also is considering spending as much as $7 million for a proposed homeless campus near downtown Rapid City. Three of the five Pennington County commissioners — George Ferebee, Ron Buskerud and Deb Hadcock — will see their terms expire in 2018, which could lead to a reshaped governing body.
With so much at stake in 2018, it is important that the taxpayers who foot the bills get engaged with all levels of government. Go to meetings, study the issues, contact your representatives, write letters to the editor, make your voice be heard, demand accountability and above all take the time to vote, a privilege too many take for granted. Elections can and do lead to profound change, which Donald Trump has proven throughout 2017.
Soon, many will begin formulating resolutions for the new year. One to consider is to participate in the democratic process, especially in a year when so much could change for decades to come.
It’s critical that we all try to participate rather than delegate in 2018.