Democratic Leaders Column – Week 1

PIERRE, SD (January 14, 2021) – We are here in Pierre as we finish up our first week of the legislative session where Democrats are looking forward to working together to get things done for the people of South Dakota. COVID is unfortunately still a concern. We are working to ensure a safe environment for all by following CDC guidelines and encouraging others within the Capitol to help us keep everyone safe by masking up, getting vaccinated and boostered. Our caucus members have not been immune to the most recent Omicron variant, as Senate Minority Whip Reynold Nesiba has tested positive for COVID. We wish him a safe and quick recovery and look forward to having him back.

This week included the State of the State Address by Governor Noem, the State of the Judiciary from Chief Justice Steven Jensen, and the State of the Tribes from Chairman Delbert Hopkins Jr. from Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. These annual addresses allow us to hear from our Governor and state leaders; to see their goals and their needs for the future of South Dakota.

We come with a sense of obligation and duty to the state. The voters sent us here to come together and solve South Dakota problems. If the State of the State is the tone of this year, we are in for quite a ride. You can trust Democrats will be working hard to support all South Dakotans. We will be standing up for those who feel marginalized, who feel their voices are being squashed.

We are going to have to play defense this session to protect peoples’ liberties and lifestyles. At every opportunity, we will be working towards stopping the mean-spirited and misguided bills that we are seeing pop up already.

Democrats are here to work for South Dakotans and help our communities through an ongoing pandemic. This year, American Rescue Plan funding has been granted to our state to mitigate the effects of last year’s struggles. These federal funds are specifically designed to support impacted communities. understand our most important asset is our people. Our teachers, support staff, community support providers, and state employees deserve more than an equal cost of living adjustment. If we are flush with cash as indicated, those that often take the backseat should benefit. There are areas we know we can work together: workforce housing, safe and affordable childcare, and assisting healthcare staff that are burned out. This is how we grow South Dakota.

At every step, we need to remember that there is a pandemic going on and there are still ongoing difficulties due to COVID that we cannot ignore. Our healthcare workers have worked tirelessly to keep South Dakotans safe. The need for Medicaid expansion is evident now more than ever.

We want to hear from you! Please feel free to contact us to share your questions or concerns about the current session. Our caucus meetings are open to the public, keeping in mind CDC guidelines. Your voice matters and together we can create a South Dakota that works for all of us.

Senate Democratic Leader Troy Heinert

House Democratic Leader Jamie Smith