Democratic Leadership Column: GOP Attacking the Most Vulnerable


January 28, 2024

Sen. Reynold Nesiba (District 15)

Minority Leader

Greetings from your South Dakota Capitol! Week Three of the 99th legislative session was a flurry of activity. Legislators were hurrying to introduce bills before Thursday’s unlimited bill deadline. The last time I checked there were about 400 bills introduced. Half were from the Senate and half from the House. Each legislator has three more bills they may introduce before this coming Wednesday. I suspect we will see over 600 bills this session.

Two of my bills will be up in committee on Monday. SB 113 would establish a state flag commission to evaluate our current state flag and develop a process to accept and evaluate submissions for a new state flag for South Dakota. SB 123 would require our State Board of Elections to meet once per year. This is in response to several bills introduced this year by the Secretary of State. Senators keep asking what the Board’s position was on a bill, and the proponents were unable to answer since the board has not met. My bill would simply require them to meet and report to the Secretary of State. I have also introduced other bills. SB 109 would repeal the death penalty in South Dakota. SB 132 would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over three years just like Nebraska’s. SJR 510 would let the people of South Dakota decide if they wish to cut the state portion of the sales tax on food and end the temporary .3% cut in the overall sales tax.

I have been deeply frustrated with my Republican colleagues who are going after the most vulnerable populations in South Dakota. On Friday, Senate Republicans passed two bills targeting low-income families. One will lower the number of days’ notice from 30 to 15 that a renter would receive after the end of a lease before they must vacate the property.  This is opposed by tenant’s rights organizations and undermines the regulation necessary to offset the highly unequal power relationship between landlords and tenants. The other would put a paperwork and bureaucracy requirement on Medicaid recipients, advertised as a “work requirement.” This is unnecessary because two-thirds of people on Medicaid are also using SNAP benefits, which already has a work requirement. This resolution comes as we are dealing with a childcare crisis and the state is closing several job service offices. A Medicaid work requirement will not increase our workforce and will instead deny people healthcare. Sen. John Wiik, who is also chair of the South Dakota GOP, went so far as to say “direct democracy does not work.” That is an affront to the 56% of people who voted for this program and specified in that act that they did not want the legislature messing with the will of the voters. The South Dakota GOP should accept the will of people, although what should we expect from a party whose Presidential candidate refuses to admit he lost the last election.

Meanwhile, Democrats are here to help people. Rep. Kadyn Wittman introduced a bill to expand free school lunches, however Republicans killed it. Sen. Liz Larson brought legislation to provide free birth certificates to people who are unhoused. Rep. Erin Healy is bringing a bill to make breast exams more affordable for all South Dakotans. Sen. Shawn Bordeaux has introduced a long list of proposals to strengthen our tribes. Sen. Red Dawn Foster brought a bill to fix an oversight in last year’s housing infrastructure bill. Rep. Linda Duba is making sure our communities stay safe by holding gun owners accountable to properly store their firearms. Rep. Kameron Nelson brought legislation to make our discrimination laws stronger. Those are just a few examples of the amazing work Democrats are doing to help every day South Dakotans.

Democrats are bringing forward a positive agenda that people across the state care about. You can find all of our proposed bills on the South Dakota Democratic Party website. Every day we work to create a South Dakota that works for all of us.

Senate Minority Leader

Senator Reynold Nesiba

For questions, you may contact Dan Ahlers at or contact the state party office by phone at 605-271-5405 or 605-940-3071.

Paid for by the South Dakota Democratic Party |