Another week down!
We just wrapped up week 3 of the 98th legislative session. From committees to the House floor, there was debate heard over several issues facing our South Dakota communities. At the end of the day, however, I believe that the work we did this week is something that we can all be proud of, and I look forward to continuing that momentum as we enter the coming weeks.
Monday started off with SB41 being heard on the House floor, which provides $200 million ($50M of which is federal COVID funds) for housing infrastructure loans and grants. This bill was long overdue. It’s the product of many years of study, discussion, and compromise. Last year, the legislature appropriated $150 million for this same project, but none of it was able to be spent due to logistical problems. Passing it this year ensures that we are going to be able to move this program forward and not miss another construction season. During my travels across South Dakota’s largest and smallest communities, housing opportunities for new and existing residents is problem number one. SB41 is going to be a game changer for South Dakota and I was proud to cosponsor and support it!
I also want to dig into a couple of pieces of legislation that I will be bringing and discussing in the upcoming weeks. Here are a couple of them:
- HB1101: I’m prime sponsoring this bill, which is an act to ensure the proper labeling of American Indian Arts and Crafts. This bill will strengthen the original 1960’s statute, protecting Native American artisans, and will also provide clarity to retailers. As a tribal member, I’m excited to have this as my first bill. I testified on it before House Commerce and Energy on Wednesday, with it passing out of committee with a “do pass” recommendation unanimously.
- HB1124: One of the things that I ran on last year was to ensure that we preserve South Dakota as a leader in free and fair elections. I think South Dakota has some of the best-run elections in the nation, but that’s not by accident. We’re constantly looking at ways to safeguard and strengthen our processes to continue to lead the way. My legislation ensures no software or firmware upgrades can take place after pre-election certification, to codify existing rules, and provides guidance and increases public access to tests on tabulation machines during an election.
- HB1079: I am proud to co-sponsor this bill, which makes an appropriation to the Department of Health to provide grants for mental health and suicide prevention resources. This is a critically important need for South Dakota students and young adults. Those who battle mental illnesses need a strong support system, and this bill is a great step in that direction.
There are many more items to come as we continue our work in Pierre, so please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, or even if you are planning to come visit the legislature and would like to say hi. You can reach me at email@example.com or by phone at 605-610-8884 anytime. Stay warm this weekend!