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Joint Democratic Leadership Column – Week 9

Updated: Apr 22

Pierre, SD (March 11, 2022) – We are here in Pierre finishing up the last week of the 97th legislative session. Democrats have worked hard to get things done for the people of South Dakota. We have had a variety of successes, both with our own legislation and fighting against bills that would ultimately hurt our state.

We all know and understand how important proper healthcare is, especially surrounding prenatal and postnatal care. This session, we passed legislation that would allow a pregnant minor to provide their own informed consent regarding prenatal care in certain situations. The passage of this bill is very important for a young mother who might need certain care that otherwise would not be given. We are patiently waiting for the Governor to sign this into state law.

South Dakota is widely known for its large Native population. This year, we tried our hardest as Democrats to pass meaningful legislation for Natives in our state. An exciting win this session was beaded graduation caps. Traditional beadwork is an integral part of Native American heritage and history. For our Native youth to have beaded caps at their graduation opens up another opportunity to stay connected to their heritage and culture.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has a worrisome public safety crisis. To call attention to this, a House Concurrent Resolution was brought to the legislature. Pine Ridge and Rose Bud experience disproportionate crime rates compared to the population. An ask was made for the Tribal Department of Public Safety to receive more funding. For perspective, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has disproportionately higher 911 calls than Pennington County, even though the tribe is much smaller in population. We must, and will, continue to fight for the safety of all South Dakotans, especially those that reside on our reservations.

For a majority of the legislative session, the Republican leaders between the House and Senate were not playing the same game, they weren’t even on the same field. When Democratic leadership was brought into the meetings, fresh eyes were given to the legislative process. Leaders from both parties were able to come up with a compromise that put the legislature in charge of the budget as the South Dakota Constitution says it should be. House Bill 1281 provides federal government spending authority for existing programs that do not require a policy change. It also creates a mechanism for the interim joint appropriations committee to approve spending on new programs created by an influx of significant federal dollars. The governor has threatened to veto HB 1281 and the General Bill. Vetoing this legislation would negatively impact the people of South Dakota and all of the entities that rely on these resources.

Thank you for putting your trust in us to help South Dakota become a better place. We want to hear from you! Please feel free to contact us to share your questions or concerns. Your voice matters and together we can create a South Dakota that works for all of us.

Senate Democratic Leader Troy Heinert House Democratic Leader Jamie Smith

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