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Women in Government

Deb Peters 2017 HONOREE

State Senator, South Dakota

Deb Peters is a go-getter. From traveling abroad in her role as the National Conference of State Legislatures’ president-elect, to running her successful consulting business, Peters is used to deftly managing and multitasking. “If things aren’t going my way I tend to get very frustrated,” she says.

One long-time object of her frustration has been the inability of South Dakota (and every other state) to tax online sales. Tired of waiting for Congress to deal with the issue, Peters last year authored and shepherded through legislation that allows her state to collect such taxes. The effort resulted in an immediate -- and expected -- lawsuit in a case that’s designed to trigger a U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

The high-profile role is a departure for Peters, who tends to work busily in the background. As one of the state’s longest-serving legislators and the chair of the appropriations committee, she is often sought out as an adviser and is known for her ability to help make things happen. “If someone comes to me with an idea and I think it’s a good thing for our state, then I will work with all the parties to make sure it happens,” she says. “My philosophy has always been that I don’t need the credit.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.