January 15, 2021
It is Friday afternoon and as I reflect on the first week of South Dakota’s 96th Legislative Session, the one word I come up with is “whirlwind”. (Maybe this week’s high winds influenced that description).
The work that goes into experiencing and understanding the House of Representatives is exciting and a little daunting too. I guess my head was spinning a bit. So many fellow Representatives have offered their help, encouragement, and suggestions, making me feel comforted and very motivated to become a competent Representative for you.
The formal and informative speeches from Governor Noem, Chief Justice Jensen, and Tribal Chairman Faith were inspiring and gave a sense of optimism and purpose to their mission to serve the Citizens of South Dakota in the roles they have. All three of them stated and praised the resilience of South Dakotans during these pandemic times and how we can improve programs, initiatives, and attitudes that can move South Dakota forward. It was rewarding to hear from them. I was unaware of the large discrepancies in compensation for South Dakota’s circuit court justices compared to neighboring states. Hopefully, Justice Jensen’s budget request will address that issue. I was also asked by a reporter if I thought Governor Noem’s speech was lacking any specific issue. I answered by saying that I wasn’t the type of person to be too critical and tried to focus on the positives. There were many in her address.
I received a number of e-mail, texts, and calls this week from constituents bringing to my attention House and Senate Bills that are likely to be introduced that has caused them concern. East River Deer hunting privileges to non-residents who own land in South Dakota and changes to boards and commissions that involve their businesses is what I heard most of this week. The advice I received from my fellow Representatives is to obviously read the bills that are in question (if they exist yet), get familiar with what is being claimed, and get familiar with efforts in previous sessions that have dealt with these issues. I get a sense that deciding on an issue can come too quickly and it takes some time to let information “settle” a bit. Getting direction from seasoned legislators is valuable and I have spent quite a bit of my time building relationships with people who I respect.
So far there has been 59 bills have been introduced in the House and 73 have been introduced in the Senate so it looks like I have some reading to do this weekend. In closing, I will admit to you I became choked up, my voice trembled, and I wiped a tear from my face as I took the oath of office on Tuesday. I appreciate the honor to serve you and please do not hesitate to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.