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Wrapping up a Great Legislative Session





This week, the 2021 legislative session came to a close. In South Dakota, we keep things short; the session lasts a maximum of 40 legislative days. Every bill gets a hearing, its opportunity to be weighed and vetted by the 105 legislators that you elect to serve you in Pierre.

 

This year was unique in many ways. South Dakota’s legislative session was perhaps the most “normal” in the country, with legislators still voting in person. And South Dakota had record revenue numbers and huge amounts of one-time money to invest in the long-term future of our state.

 

I challenged the legislature that we wanted these dollars to fix problems for 20-30 years or longer into the future. And that’s what we’re doing.

 

We’re investing a combined $100 million to finish connecting the state to high-speed broadband. We’re putting $50 million into an endowment for the South Dakota Freedom Scholarship, which will help kids who need financial assistance get a college degree. We’re building the new Dakota Events CompleX to make Huron a destination for national and regional rodeo events. And there are so many more important projects to strengthen communities.

 

We’re also putting record dollars into savings and trust funds to strengthen the state budget for the future. South Dakota’s economy is strong right now, but we want to make sure we’re prepared for any future difficulties.

 

We improved healthcare for South Dakotans by making it more flexible and affordable. We recognized healthcare licenses for folks moving to South Dakota from other states. We provided greater transparency in healthcare costs by requiring that insurance companies show you what the cost of a procedure will be. And we’re allowing South Dakotans to have greater flexibility in their access to healthcare.

 

We also defended the rights and freedoms of South Dakotans.

 

We defended life. I signed legislation to protect babies who were born alive. And I’ll be signing a bill to ban abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome very soon.

 

We defended liberty. We simplified youth hunting. We empowered parental choice in education. And we didn’t expand government control over our citizens lives like we’re seeing in other states.

 

And we defended property rights. We passed asset forfeiture reform with regards to conservation officers. We’re allowing landowners East River to hunt on their own lands. And we passed legislation to codify the Department of Game, Fish & Parks’ policy as it pertains to open fields.

 

All told, it was a fantastic legislative session. We had a lot to get done in a short amount of time, and I’m happy to report that we accomplished quite a bit to make South Dakota safer, stronger, and healthier for our kids and our grandkids. 

 

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