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  • Mike Weisgram

Legislative Update – Week #1

The workforce housing infrastructure legislation and the Cultural Heritage Center renovation project are topics that are on my mind as I pen this update this Friday afternoon. In order for each project to come to fruition, they will both require favorable action from the South Dakota State Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee.

As our Governor suggested in her budget address, the 200 million dollars recommended to fund workforce housing infrastructure investments is welcomed and appreciated by the workforce housing legislative summer study committee. The details regarding the implementation of this program has raised discussion among committee members, and I expect some suggestions of how to improve the mechanics of the program as proposed. I anticipate the results found throughout the summer study will be reflected by legislation and the programs being considered. I strongly believe that the commitment of this committee will act as a driving force to help us to respond with the most effective program to provide funding to cities and developers who are dedicated to expanding workforce housing availability.

Regarding the need for more housing in the Pierre/Fort Pierre communities, for example, our largest two employers in central South Dakota have over 135 full time jobs available. One of the leading challenges for employers to fill these positions is the absence of available housing for candidates that are considering moving here to start or continue their careers. To conclude, I know the administration and the housing committee members are committed to making positive things happen with affordable workforce housing, so I continue to be hopeful and optimistic that programs will be crafted and funded to make a positive impact.

Yesterday, I took the opportunity to visit the Cultural Heritage Center, here in Pierre, to familiarize myself with the proposed full renovation project that was recently announced. After viewing the renderings of the updated entry that will expand educational and programming spaces, improve exhibits and interactive displays, improve access for individuals with disabilities, and better accommodate school and tour bus traffic, I came away very impressed with this project and energized to help this worthy project receive funding. The building was completed in 1989 and opened as part of the state’s centennial celebration. Three decades later, it’s time to modernize the facility as a place for South Dakotans and our guests to fully experience the state’s rich history. Your District 24 legislators will be fervent supporters of this project.

Thank you and please call or email me if you have any thoughts or questions. mw

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