PIERRE, SD (March 4th, 2022) – Greetings from Pierre! Having just completed the eighth week of the Ninety-Seventh Legislative Session, we are nearing the end, with one week remaining. Many bills have yet to be heard on the floor and the pressure continues to mount as we flesh out the budget. 

Recently, we heard bills focusing on recreational marijuana, and unfortunately, we were unable to pass this legislation. Please know that South Dakota Democrats support the will of the people. We are working to implement medical marijuana laws and promote a safe and well-regulated recreational marijuana industry. 

 The appropriations committee continues to work through the budget, which is flush with unprecedented amounts of money due in large part to federal stimulus dollars. We continue to insist on at least a six percent increase for our schools, community support providers, and state employees. We also are working hard to ensure that one-time projects will be funded that include improvements on our college campuses, state-wide infrastructure, and water projects to name a few.

It is no secret that our state has a housing shortage. It is important that we find a way to move forward with a workforce housing initiative that includes funding. Bills designed to implement this program have been met with resistance, and we are working to find a way to accomplish this goal.  

For years I have been concerned about at-risk juveniles falling through the cracks. While juvenile justice reform has decreased the number of youth in the Department of Corrections, we know that there are many troubled youth that are falling through the cracks. Senate Bill 198 ensures that we have a summer study to help find solutions for our schools, families, and communities. We need to provide an environment where our students can learn and troubled students can find the help they need to be successful and productive citizens. 

Democrats are here to work for you and want to hear from you! Please contact us to share your questions or concerns about the current session. Our caucus meetings have always been open to the public each day, an hour before floor session. Your voice matters to us, and we believe that together, we can create a South Dakota that works for all of us.

House Minority Leader Jamie Smith