PIERRE, SD (Jan. 30, 2020) – Greetings from Pierre, where week three of the legislative session demonstrated differences between the two parties governing our state, but also offered opportunities for us to work together. 

We all agree that our students deserve the best opportunities to succeed. This session, we have taken a small but significant step toward addressing college affordability with SB 72 establishing the Dakota’s promise scholarship to provide need-based grants to students at our public and private non-profit colleges. We are also working on addressing the needs of our Native American students with SB 66, a bill to create Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards schools. This bill was postponed, and it will lead to more discussion about how to help our native kids succeed at school, because all of our children deserve to learn and grow in the safest, healthiest environment we can provide. 

We also all agree that our children deserve the best health care. However, stark contrasts in thought about this were most apparent during this week’s House debate on HB 1057, the bill that would criminalize healthcare for transgender youth. Making it a misdemeanor for doctors to provide appropriate medical care to youth suffering from gender dysphoria, this bill inserts government control into the most sacred relationship between children and their parents. We’re also considering the economic damage such a bill does to our state as we continue to receive negative national attention. If passed, this law threatens to harm our tourism industry and any other economic advancement we might hope to achieve. As an example, North Carolina’s bathroom bill targeting trans gender youth cost them $3.7 billion over 10 years. Last year in South Dakota, visitors spent $4.1 billion contributing 15% of all state and local tax revenue. Without the tourism industry, South Dakota households would have to pay an additional $890 per year to make up the gap if those revenues were lost. On the house floor we implored our fellow representatives to trust our South Dakota doctors, and to listen to their own conservative values of limited government when voting on this intrusive law. The bill passed the House 46-23 and moves to the Senate. 

For communities wanting to create a better environment by creating less waste, we oppose SB 54, the bill to ban bans on plastic. This takes away local control from our municipalities who want to take bold action to improve the environment. The bill passed the Senate. 

As the week winds down, we continue to agree with the bipartisan summer study on industrial hemp. This crop will be good for our farmers, our local industries, and our economy. We also have bipartisan frustration with the new paperless bill filing system. All of us appreciate the folks on staff who are patiently working with us as we file bills and find sponsors. Any change, whether personal or political, is difficult, but we’re all learning together. 

Contact: Rep. Jamie Smith (605)339-3583


Senate Democratic Leader Senator Troy Heinert (D-Mission) 

House Democratic Leader Representative Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls)