We are back in Pierre for the first week of session. At the beginning of each legislative session, I reflect on ways to best represent the people who live in Grant, Deuel, rural Brookings and rural Codington Counties. I am grateful to be back, and will do my best to be a good and thoughtful representative.
Should you like to follow any of the bills, the Legislative Research Council (LRC) website provides comprehensive information about bills and amendments, committee work and floor action. By going to the website www.sdlegislature.gov, you can find the texts of bills and see when they are scheduled for committee hearing. You can see what amendments have been offered. You can listen to committee discussion and floor debate and see how legislators voted on a bill.
As far as particulars of session, it is a strange year because of COVID.It is the great unknown. We are doing all we can to mitigate its impact on the lawmaking process, but the reality is nobody knows what will happen. People are expected to wear masks, many desks on the House Floor are now separated by 6’x8’ sheets of clear plexiglass, and committee testimony is being encouraged to be given by Zoom instead of in person.
People always ask, “What will be the hot topics of this session?” Usually it’s hard to know, but this year it’s safe to say much time will be spent on addressing health, safety, education and budgetary issues associated with COVID.
The other hot topic will be marijuana. The constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana is currently before the Supreme Court, and out of the hands of the legislature. The claim is the amendment is unconstitutional. If the court agrees, there is talk about possibly passing a law to put a constitutional form of the amendment back on the ballot so the voters can have another opportunity to have a say. Right now, this is just talk.
The medical marijuana bill that voters passed by a wide margin was very poorly written. It will be amended. The voters’ intention to legalize medical marijuana will remain unchanged.
I will be carrying a full load of bills this year. My plan is to provide you information each week on one or more of the bills I am introducing.
The first bill I am introducing that I will share with you is updated “born alive” legislation. This bill requires appropriate medical treatment for infants born alive after an abortion. In the event the abortionist fails to attempt to save the life of the baby, civil and criminal penalties would follow. The mother would continue to be protected from any liabilities, in accordance with the current state law.
If the Legislature passes the South Dakota Born-Alive Infant Protection Act into law, a line will be drawn in the sand, with the Legislature proclaiming clearly and loudly that a baby who survives an abortion deserves the full protection of the law and the highest standards of medical care.
With that, I again thank you for allowing me to represent you in Pierre. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with questions, comments or suggestions on the legislative issues we will be tackling over the next nine weeks.