PIERRE, SD (Jan. 24, 2020) – Greetings from Pierre where this year’s Legislative session is underway. It’s always an honor and a privilege to be here working for the people of South Dakota. This year, Democrats continue to focus on issues that matter, and we look forward to working with our fellow legislators and the Governor on those issues whether we agree or don’t agree.

We can all agree that the 0% increase in state employee salaries proposed by Governor Noem is unacceptable. Our teachers, community support providers and state employees deserve better. A bipartisan effort to find funding sources to follow the law on this matter is ongoing with hopes to reach a satisfactory resolution. We also continue to fight for early childhood education, better mental health care, and expanded drug treatment efforts that lead to recovery. This is also the year to add hemp to our agricultural products. Farmers, producers, and manufacturers in our state are ready, and our state needs policies in place to make it work.

What our state doesn’t need is more negative national attention, but that is what happened this week with the introduction of HB 1057. This bill that would criminalize health care for vulnerable children disregards doctors, disrespects parents, and devalues children who need help. We will listen to South Dakota doctors and families on this issue and fight to defeat this bill. We hear you and we are hearing from many others who say this closed minded legislation does not mean South Dakota is “open for business.”

To truly strengthen our business climate and our economy we are working on bills to enhance education from pre-K through college. Investing in early childhood education and needs based scholarships continues to be a priority for us. We are also working on finding resources to provide treatment and care to people in the grips of meth addiction. Meth is a budgetary line issue, not a corrections issue, and we need to use whatever tools we have available to us to dig people out from under it. For this reason among many others, we continue to talk about expanding Medicaid in South Dakota.

Building a better South Dakota for you and your family is why we are here. In the coming weeks, Democrats will file legislation laying out our priorities and sharing our vision: a South Dakota environment and economy where everyone can get ahead, and an open, accountable state government where all South Dakotans have a voice and a place at the table.

We want to hear from you! Please contact us to share your questions or concerns about the current Session. If you’re in Pierre, you can always join us at one of our caucus meetings that are open to the public. Your voice matters.

For more information, contact Rep. Jamie Smith at (605)339-3583 or via email at


Senate Democratic Leader Senator Troy Heinert (D-Mission) and House Democratic Leader Representative Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls)