Democratic Leadership: Democrats In Pierre Work for the People of South Dakota

By Sen. Reynold Nesiba and Rep. Oren Lesmeister

It was another busy week in Pierre. We had a deadline to file bills this week, and Democrats have filed a lot of them. Bills should be coming to our assigned committees within the next two weeks, and we hope our Republican colleagues can look beyond partisan politics, see the value of these bills for South Dakota, and help us pass them. 

As more legislation is introduced, we’re starting to get the sense some of the bills the Republican caucus brings, especially the bills about “social issues,” are meant to deflect and distract from real issues in the state. Democrats are trying to bring bills that matter to South Dakotans: helping South Dakotans, protecting free speech, ensuring South Dakotans’ freedom from government overreach and bureaucracy, and ensuring private decisions are between individuals, their families, and their doctors. 

We are pleased that SB 41, the $200 million dollar infrastructure bill, passed. There aren’t very many Democrats in Pierre, but this bill is a great example of the importance that our voices hold. Without the seven votes from Democrats in the House of Representatives, the bill would have failed. This is a good bill for all of South Dakota, and it is awaiting the Governor’s signature so we can put those dollars to work. 

HB 1075, the grocery tax bill, was heard in the House Taxation committee this week. The Governor had six months to research this issue but, once again, the Native American population was ignored by the Governor’s office. This is an ongoing problem with the current administration and our tribal nations, and it is a serious concern for our caucus – so we’re asking for answers. Our hope is that we’re still able to vote yes on HB 1075, however we need to ensure that we are not cutting our budget so much that we are not able to adequately compensate important entities that help others within our state.

We have people to feed, we have parents who can’t work because they don’t have childcare, we have work shortages in nursing homes and hospitals, and yet we’re spending time and energy to fight back on bills like HB 1080, an anti-trans bill that will be heard in committee this next week. Democrats have introduced bills to help people by solving problems or breaking down barriers, while our Republican colleagues are bringing bills to put barriers up and make South Dakota an uninviting place for so many. 

Senator Nesiba has introduced SB 107, a bill to facilitate the process of establishing election precincts and polling places by counties and SB 109, a bill to require employers to disclose compensation or range of compensation to applicants and employees. Representative Healy has introduced HB 1158, a bill to exempt feminine hygiene products from the state sales tax, and Representative Wittman has introduced HB 1103, a bill to waive the fee for nondriver identification cards for low-income folks. We look forward to hearing more on these bills in the coming weeks. 

This coming Thursday, February 2nd, is Democrats Day at the Capitol. We are looking forward to meeting with many of our constituents from across the state and talking about the issues that matter most to South Dakotans. We hope you can join us!

Senate Democratic Leader Reynold Nesiba

House Democratic Leader Oren Lesmeister