The “nuts and bolts” of session is becoming apparent to me as we conclude week 2 of session. I have a new appreciation of what it takes for a legislator to bring foreword a bill. In addition to mindful thought, mindful legislation takes careful wording that it not only addresses the changes the drafter aims to make but also “cleans up” parts of legislation that no longer apply and uses appropriate wording that the federal government demands. Whether the legislation is being driven by a state agency or a legislator, the Legislative Research Council (LRC) works tirelessly with the drafters to provide bills that include the intent of the drafter but are also legally accurate. The LRC is staffed with an impressive group of dedicated professionals. They are very nice too. Especially to new legislators.
The committees that I serve on began to hear bills that drew several points of view. Many of these were opposing views, so we heard impassioned testimonies that drew my full attention and sense of compassion. Listening is easy, deciding on which way to vote isn’t. In the end, I relied on my senses and tried to draw some similarities with what I have experienced as a businessperson and city councilman.
When a bill is defeated in committee, it is no longer an active proposal for the session. If it passes, it goes to the “floor” of the House (heard by the full body) to be discussed and voted on. Every bill that passes the floor then moves to the second legislative body, in this case the Senate. Multiple hearings create for much discussion before a bill becomes law.
I have thought a lot about those who have gone before us as there was a joint legislative memorial service held this week. It was a solemn and moving experience. The service honored nine legislators who had passed away since last session. Their service to the citizens of South Dakota were detailed in program and speech. Bernie Christenson was one of those legislators we honored. He was a legislator from Pierre in 1985 to 1987. I looked up to Bernie as a mentor for as long as I can remember. I loved his contagious optimism. He embodied the meaning of a gentleman, a professional at everything he chose to do, and a true friend. Something I aspire to be as well. I miss him.
I anticipate that the pace of session will pick up immensely over the next few weeks. I remain committed to learning, contributing, and sharing with you and at the end of each week. Thank you for the opportunity.