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Legislator’s report from Pierre

Legislator’s report from Pierre

 By Shawn Bordeaux

Hau mitakuyepi na mitakolapi, iyuha cante wasteya nape ciuzapelo.  Hello relatives, friends and neighbors,

I extend my hand to you with good feelings from my heart and I welcome you from Pierre and report to you on the 97th legislative session which started last week.

We got started Tuesday, January 11th with the governor’s State of the State address in the House chambers of the State Capitol.  I was hoping to hear about how we are going to tackle some of the real big issues in the state we all are facing, like workforce development, childcare, and pandemic health concerns for example.  But instead, we got the same divisive language we hear on TV from folks interested in DC type of politics.  Like how transgender kids are a threat to our school’s athletic programs and Critical Race Theory is creeping into our school districts at every level.  Doesn’t sound like the communities I see here in South Dakota.  I’d hope the governor would lead us in helping solve some of the many problems facing everyday Americans in the state with all this extra money in the state coffers.  We should have a great year and provide better service than ever from our government and its agencies.

Same as last year, I didn’t notice any masks being worn by Republicans in the House and in the Senate chambers.  Nor did I find many worn in the buildings at the various events held nightly after the legislative session ends.  We already have a legislator come down with Covid and I fear we will have to go back to remotely meeting over the computer.  I think it is unfortunate that everything is so political with the viruses, masking and vaccinations.  With everything we have been through and learned we need to follow all the CDC guidelines and protocols we can to get through this pandemic as best as we can together.

We also heard from Chief Justice Stevens on Wednesday about the State of the Judiciary system in South Dakota.   We need to increase our efforts to help rehabilitate people through treatment programs rather than expanding our penitentiary in Rapid City for women as was budgeted by the governor.  We need to think about changing the way we operate the courts and do restorative justice programs that bring people together to help bring back healing in the communities.

On Thursday we heard from Chairman Delbert Hopkins from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe during the State of the Tribes Address.  The chairman touched on a number of issues like teaching our history and curriculum of our Oceti Sakowin or Seven Council Fires within the schools and mentioned the Boarding School history and the loss of our language.  He mentioned our kids scores were behind and talked about working together with the state to improve education.  He also supported immersion school efforts to bring the language back.  He said they need a new school and hopes the legislature can support their efforts.  He spoke of the lack of jobs and mentioned cultural tourism and the needs in the community to develop these industries.  He mentioned value-added agriculture, bison, greenhouses and Green Energy along with infrastructure development.  He mentioned the work being done in public safety, fighting drugs and training officers and said that they would like to work on jurisdictional efforts together with mutual respect and understanding.

Our committees started meeting this past week as well.  We have about two weeks to get our bills and resolutions into the Legislative Research Council, the office that processes our roughly 500 bills a session over 38 days this year.  I believe there are about 30 different marijuana laws being proposed so far and we have more money to spend then we ever had in the past so we will see a lot of people coming out of the woodwork to get their fair share of it.

I would like to encourage any of our district members to check out the legislature.  Also, go to SDLRC on your computer to find information about bills and hearings that are taking place this session as well as archived information.  I thank all of you for your time and attention.

 

Contact me if you need me to help you at my office, 605-856-8241 or email me at the Shawn.Bordeaux@sdlegislature.gov.  Thanks to the good folks at the Todd County Tribune and Native Sun News Today for allowing me to report to district members.

 

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