South Dakota legislators hit with COVID as 2021 session approaches

Sioux Falls, SD (January 1, 2021) – One of the first signs in South Dakota that COVID-19 is a serious illness was the loss of Representative Bob Glanzer. It was early in the pandemic and the full impact wouldn’t be understood until much later. But now the severity is known, and the 2021 legislative session is just around the corner. South Dakota state legislators have an opportunity to choose a different path for their safety and those who work side-by-side with them in Pierre. 

“We support the legislators and their well-being. All of them. This shouldn’t be political. The legislative session is quickly approaching and with the history of this illness it needs to be taken seriously.” – Chair Randy Seiler, South Dakota Democratic Party

January 12, 2021 is the first day of the next session. As the date approaches the stories of legislators getting the illness keep piling up.  

Policies are being considered to allow remote participation. They must be approved by the South Dakota Executive Committee and also require adoption by the legislative procedures committee and the full legislature.

The 2020 legislative session ended with legislators working remotely after a large investment in technology to make it possible. That same technology, if put to use, can make it possible for legislators to do their work this session while remaining healthy. Numerous states have had to make similar adjustments.

“Any legislator choosing to attend remotely is helping alleviate the burden on our health system. Rep. Duba is a highly effective legislator and I have no concerns about her ability to serve her constituents well. I support any legislator making this decision. It’s a serious illness and we’ve already seen the potential outcome.” – Troy Heinert, Senate Minority Leader

The South Dakota legislature has the opportunity to address this issue before session. November and December were both deadly months in South Dakota and AARP reports South Dakota had the highest deaths in nursing homes from COVID in the nation in November.

Please direct questions to SDDP Executive Director Pam Cole
via email or phone (605) 695-1996.