Democratic Leadership Column: Session Moving at a Faster Pace


January 20, 2024

Rep. Oren Lesmeister (District 28A) Minority Leader

We are off and running this year at a faster pace then anyone has ever seen, which is great. We started discussing bills almost immediately. In the past we waited until the second week to do so. This has been looked at and talked about for the past few years, and everyone appreciates the fast start to work through the bill load.

One of the bills that I will be carrying this year again will be the update to the Industrial Hemp Statue. We are #1 in the nation in production and processing. We are going to grow our acres to 6,000+. This industry is going to be huge with uses like animal bedding, herd for hempcrete and fiber. The South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association is working to bring a hemp block plant to the state. This plant would build hempcrete blocks to be used in construction of buildings. This is what I envisioned this industry to be when I first started bringing the original bill 8 years ago.

With the work load increasing, we are also seeing more people coming to the Capitol to talk with legislators. This is and has always been the best way to communicate.

I sit on the House State Affairs Committee again this year and we have been working on bills concerning elections of party members, PUC issues, infrastructure on tribal lands, housing funds and even a bill to to allow permeant daylight saving time.

We are seeing a draft load in the Legislative Research Council of over 600 bills this year. Sounds like South Dakota needs a lot more laws and regulations.

Some things of interest are always pipeline and property rights bills. We saw the first one of these in a House committee that would have restructured the way you can survey prior to permits being issued by the PUC. This bill failed to pass out of committee. I am not, and never will be, against pipelines to move products. But, I am against using broad sweeping eminent domain for private gain. I have always, and will continue, to stand with land owners on the private property rights issues.

It’s an honor and pleasure working for the people of District 28A and the State of South Dakota.

House Minority Leader

Representative Oren Lesmeister

Sen. Reynold Nesiba (District 15) Minority Leader

Democratic and Republican Senators have been working together this week in a bipartisan way on issues of mutual concern. We have passed bills that promote E15 fuel and that ensure polling places are civically-sacred-spaces by giving poll workers greater legal protection from intimidation.

I was also pleased to hear the positive comments from Republican colleagues about the funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) helping South Dakota’s infrastructure. This week, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed SB 53 which will provide another $94 million in federal grants to water and wastewater projects across the state. This is on top of over $600 million set aside last year as the biggest single investment in water and waste water treatment in our state’s history. These investments are only possible because of President Joe Biden’s leadership and we thank him for investing in America when all Republican Senators and Representatives voted against it, including South Dakota’s entire delegation.

There are also points where we disagree. One of the biggest disagreements is going to be coming up in the next week or two and it’s going to be on this Republican idea to expand government and government paperwork to deny people healthcare. The main problem with SJR 501 is the disrespect it shows toward the people of South Dakota. It also benefits no one. It’s simply political posturing on the part of Republicans that they are proposing to expand government paperwork to deny people healthcare that they deserve. South Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2%, and a work reporting requirement would mean another government mandate on people and small business owners who are already working hard to succeed. For those who are sick, it means time spent reporting to the government as opposed to getting better and getting back to living the healthy lives we all hope to enjoy. As a state that prides itself on work ethic, unnecessary reporting requirements are an undue burden on already stretched DSS staff. Let’s keep South Dakota free of unnecessary government overreach and red tape and join our caucus in opposing SJR501.

Senate Minority Leader

Senator Reynold Nesiba

For questions, you may contact Dan 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 |