Some good, some bad from Pierre
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Some good, some bad from Pierre

Jamie Smith

Greetings from Pierre, where week four of the legislative session has allowed us to hear powerful testimony from our neighbors, families, and businesses that will be affected by the decisions we make. We appreciate those who came to share their stories with us. We hear you, and we will continue to fight for what matters to you.

HB 1008 to legalize the growth, production, and transportation of industrial hemp in the state, passed unanimously out of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and passed on the House floor on Monday. Amended by Governor Noem, this bill addresses her concerns as well as the interests of our agricultural and manufacturing industries who will benefit from this legislation. The amended bill is a collaboration between the legislative Industrial Hemp Committee and state agencies and has come a long way in the past year. The strong bipartisan support HB 1008 has received means we’re working together to make South Dakota better.

Unfortunately, we have also encountered bills that make the national news and reflect negatively on our state and its government. HB 1096, which prohibits commercial surrogacy and provides a penalty for facilitating a commercial surrogacy. It brought a lot of debate to the House floor this week as we told the stories of families whose children exist because of this process and from the surrogates who helped them. This is one of those bills that is a solution looking for a problem. Democratic Representatives would like to see a summer study on this complex, emotional, and life-altering issue affecting so many families in South Dakota before making a final decision. It passed the House and will be assigned to a Senate committee soon.

We also heard meaningful testimony this week from supporters of HB 70, authorizing other languages to be used in the process of issuing driver licenses and permits. It’s clear this bill will benefit the agricultural, manufacturing, and hospitality industries, health care facilities and more. We are one of just three states offering manuals and tests in English only. South Dakota is open for business. Let’s pass SB 70. Kudos to VJ Smith for getting the bill out of senate transportation with a 5-2 affirmative vote Friday. It passed on the senate floor Tuesday.

Clearly, it’s the voices of our citizens that have the greatest impact on how we govern. Because your voice and your vote matter, we introduced House Joint Resolution 5002 this week. The resolution proposes creating an Independent Redistricting Commission to draw legislative districts instead of having our legislators draw their own.When our elected officials are allowed to pick their own voters, the opportunity is there for them to manipulate the maps to their own benefit. Tell your state legislators to vote YES on HJR 5002 and give the power to the people — where it belongs.

Remember, we want to hear from you and want you to visit with us! Democratic caucus meetings are always open to the public, so if you’re in Pierre, please join us.

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