Democratic Leadership Column from Troy Heinert – Week 7
PIERRE, SD (February 25, 2022) – Greetings from Pierre, I hope this message finds you and your family well! We have just completed week seven of this year’s 96th Legislative Session. This week has been significantly busier with Crossover Day on Wednesday, where all bills must pass their respective chambers. With upwards of 30 bills a day in both chambers, our schedules have been packed. Regardless of the large influx, Democrats are here to make sure the needs of South Dakotans are met.
We have heard several recreational and medical marijuana bills in both chambers this week. In the Senate, we were able to pass SB 3 that would completely legalize recreational marijuana alongside SB 25 which is effectively the tax structure for marijuana sales. This is a big step for the legislature. We are happy to see these bills move forward onto the House and hope to see a positive outcome. In the likely scenario that the legislature is not able to pass these two bills, watch for a recreational marijuana initiative measure on the November ballot.
Our appropriators have been busy. I am thankful for their efforts as just this week alone they passed upwards of fifteen bills to fund various projects within the Board of Regents, and moneys to the Rural Access Fund and Workforce Housing. Money is always contentious, though, as we are seeing vehicle bills being hog housed (where the original bill is highly amended) into appropriations that have not been vetted by the public. This is worrisome, but we will be taking every step to ensure that our dollars are spent in the best interest of South Dakotans.
Thursday, we heard a bill on the Extraordinary Litigation Fund, something that comes around every single year. The people of South Dakota need to know that we have paid out 1.5 million dollars this year alone on lawsuits in which the state has lost. This is nothing new, I have voted against this bill every single year. We shouldn’t keep passing bills that end up in the courtroom just to keep a political statement. This needs to stop!
I appreciate the continued trust you have shown in my Democratic colleagues and I to represent you in Pierre. You are invited to our caucus meetings which have always been open to the public; we meet before session. Your voice matters to us, and we believe that together, we can create a South Dakota that works for all of us.
Please contact me or any of my Democratic colleagues with your questions or concerns about the current session. My email is Troy.Heinert@sdlegislature.gov.
Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert