Greetings from Pierre! We have finished week two of our legislative session, and things are really starting to pick up. Democratic legislators have continued to focus on the real issues for South Dakotans.
Senate Bill 41, the $200 million infrastructure bill, made it to the House floor last week. This bill creates a mechanism to move $200 million approved last session for infrastructure and housing to a new fund so it can be administered throughout the state. Fifty million of these dollars came from federal funds created by Democrats in Congress and the Biden Administration. This bill is vital to expand infrastructure and housing for the people of South Dakota.
Democratic legislators spoke in support of SB 41 because housing and infrastructure is a critical need for South Dakotans. Republicans chose to stall with rule 517, a rule that delays action on a bill to the next legislative day. This is a non-negotiable motion, and they have indicated they intend to use this motion until the bill is killed. Republicans are utilizing this stalling tactic to prevent real work getting done for the great people of our state.
We also saw the introduction of HB 1080, an anti-trans bill that seeks to outlaw gender-affirming medical care. Democrats are focused on solving important issues like childcare, long-term care, the drug epidemic, and the mental health crisis. Republicans are focused on bullying trans kids to “solve” made up problems. Once again, the Democrats will work to defend all people in South Dakota. We will hear more on this bill next week.
Not only are Republicans deflecting from the real issues, they are also trying to limit the voices and opinions heard in Pierre. Republican leadership wants to eliminate or greatly reduce the ability for remote testimony on bills. They are trying to skew testimony in their favor by ensuring only opinions and voices they want in the room are the ones that are heard. We serve all South Dakotans, and we recognize that it is our responsibility to make sure the legislative session is accessible to all people.
Next week will be another busy week in Pierre as the number of bills increases. As a reminder, our caucus meetings are open to the public, and we love to hear from you. We meet right before session starts for the day and have time for public comment. We are elected to these positions to serve the people of South Dakota, and the best way to do that is to engage with our constituents.
Senate Democratic Leader Reynold Nesiba
House Democratic Leader Oren Lesmeister