Democratic Leadership: Democrats Put South Dakota First

Greetings from Pierre! We just wrapped up week five of the legislative session, and we are officially halfway through. Democrats have remained focused on the issues that matter to South Dakotans. 

To start, HB 1075, which would reduce the sales tax on food from 4.5% to 0%, passed out of the House Taxation committee and was sent to the House Appropriations committee. This is an initiative that Democrats have long supported. 

Republicans have made it clear that they are for limited government, except for when they aren’t. While Democrats have been focused on legislation that puts South Dakotans first, Republicans have been focused on fear-mongering legislation. They introduced and passed through the Senate HB 1080, a bill that strips parental rights and denies access to gender-affirming care for young people. We know that this bill is full of misinformation. Republican legislators should be listening to and investing in our youth, not attacking them through legislation. 

Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls) is working on HB 1041, which would legalize the possession of fentanyl testing strips. The hope is that this will lead to fewer overdoses on drugs that are laced with fentanyl as South Dakota faces a deadly drug epidemic.

Representative Kadyn Wittman (D-Sioux Falls) introduced legislation to waive fees associated with obtaining a State ID for low-income individuals. The initial bill died in the House Transportation committee. However, there was enough interest from other legislators that it was brought back as a committee bill with slightly different language to specifically target homeless South Dakotans. This bill is a great first step in providing the support our homeless population needs to get back on their feet, and would help ensure fair elections. The bill passed out of the House Transportation committee and was sent to the House Appropriations Committee.

Representative Erin Healy (D-Sioux Falls) introduced HB 1159, which would waive the state sales tax on menstrual products. Not having access to menstrual products deprives people of their basic dignity. We don’t tax other medical supplies, and menstrual products should not be an exception to this rule. This bill was passed out of committee and is scheduled to be heard in Appropriations.

This week in the Legislature, Republicans have made it clear that they are trying to legislate the most private and personal decisions that people make with their physicians. They’re interested in wading into a national culture war on issues that largely have no place in our state. As the Democratic Caucus, we will continue to work hard for all South Dakotans and fight back against the bad bills. 

As always, we have an open caucus.  We welcome any visitors to stop by if you’re in Pierre and weigh in on the political process. 

Senate Democratic Leader Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls)

House Democratic Leader Oren Lesmeister (D-Parade)