South Dakota legislators talk about 2021 legislative session

Two local lawmakers lay out their priorities.
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 7:47 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota’s 96th legislative session begins Tuesday, with a number of big-ticket items and smaller issues coming to center stage.

COVID. Marijuana. Sports Wagering. Three big topics South Dakota’s legislature will focus heavily on this year.

“This is the year of COVID,” said Helene Duhamel, a South Dakota Senator. “And we’re going to be dealing with that a lot in the session, no question and particularly, the onetime spenders... It’ll also be the year of cannabis, recreational and medical, and sports wagering. That’s the big three in my mind.”

“I think that it’s wonderful that we’re meeting in person and we have a lot of really big topics to discuss this year,” said Jessica Castleberry, a South Dakota Senator. “Among everything with the marijuana, initiatives is going to be a big topic this year as well as the extra funding that we need to allocate.”

But this legislative session won’t focus solely on hot topics. Duhamel and Castleberry mentioned a Crisis Stabilization Unit in Rapid City, a trail connecting Mount Rushmore and the Mickelson Trail, preparing Box Elder for the incoming B21′s, and .”We hope we can get some of those direct airline flights back into Rapid City. It’s going to be hard to deal with airlines until COVID is really resolved but those are just some of the things that are on our plate, but we have lots of ideas. Everyone does,” said Duhamel.

Both Senators said things will look a little different this year during the session but are excited to meet in person and get to work.

“Bills have already been started to be filed and they told us come ready to work,” said Duhamel.

“We know that last year, Governor Noem’s theme was ‘We’re open for business’. I know that we have some exciting themes that continue with that this year but also offer a little bit more of a focus on family,” said Castleberry. “And I think that that’s an excellent combination and the perfect combination for South Dakota.”

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