Wrapping up the 2021 South Dakota Legislative Session

An unprecedented budget, an impeachment resolution, two voter approved marijuana initiatives, and a once in a lifetime pandemic. The 2021 South Dakota legislative session was one for the history books.
Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 9:18 AM MDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - The 2021 South Dakota Legislative session has come to an end, with only “veto day” remaining for the legislature on March 29th.

“I think the session went well, we had some historical events that challenged us and put obstacles in our path,” said House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham). “I think the legislature did a very good job handling (those). Ultimately, we were able to do the people’s business in the time that was allotted to us.”

With the passage of the federal CARES Act, and unexpectedly high revenues, members of the Joint Committee on Appropriations (JCA) dealt with an unprecedented amount of money.

Much of it ended up funding various bipartisan supported projects.

“We were able to recode a large number of spending from front line workers, law enforcement, Department of Corrections, and be able to recode that which left us a lot of one time dollars,” said State Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls). “There was a lot of support for things like the needs based scholarship. (That) fifty million dollars (from the state) is going to be a big deal.”

The State House was also forced to deal with its own COVID outbreak with eight members coming down with the virus at one point. However, Speaker Gosch says they stayed with the state’s theme of “personal responsibility.”

“South Dakota has been run for the last year on personal responsibility and taking care of things the way the individual sees fit,” says Gosch. “We came into the session with the exact same attitude and I think the end result turned out very well.”

A record number of first time legislators were also a part of this year’s session. With even more federal COVID dollars possibly at play in 2022, the experience from a busy year could prove worthwhile.

“Being a first year legislator, it is obviously interesting,” said State Rep. Mike Weisgram (R-Pierre). “We get to weigh in on so many different kinds of legislation, and we are not in charge of that. People bring legislation, we are just going to listen to all of it. I think in the end, (our goal) is to balance our budget and to make investments in teh state that will be meaningful.”

The 2022 legislative session is set to begin on January 11th of next year.

Related: South Dakota Legislative Research Council Website

To see coverage from throughout the legislative session, click here.