South Dakota Legislative update - Jan. 12, 2021

Small Towns

Welcome to the Pierre Review!

Jan. 12 was the first day of the 2021 South Dakota legislative session. The Center for Rural Affairs will be monitoring policies that affect the rural quality of life and intersect with our goal of building vibrant rural communities.

We value your input as we engage with the legislative process. I encourage you to reach out if you would like to discuss any bills we are following.

Our priority issues include:

Economic development: 

We know Main Street is the lifeblood of most rural communities. Yet the pandemic has stressed many small businesses to their limit. We support policies that increase opportunities for rural economic development and support small businesses and entrepreneurs. This includes COVID-19 relief programs targeted to small businesses.

Clean energy

Clean energy offers a significant opportunity to diversify the rural economy while generating affordable, renewable power for homes and businesses. With wind and solar projects on the rise in South Dakota, we support siting standards that encourage development but also take into account the needs or concerns of communities.

Farming and food

Family farm agriculture plays a critical role in strengthening rural communities and shaping the character of rural life. Our priority is to advocate for these small family businesses, thereby strengthening the local economy. We also support policies that promote local and regional markets and the responsible use of the land.

Rural broadband

Reliable internet access is a vital component of rural life. As COVID-19 has forced many of us apart, internet access has become a necessity for school, work, and business. However, many rural South Dakota communities still do not have adequate service. We support policies that prioritize and expand rural broadband access across the state.

Resources for Engaging with the Legislature

We encourage you to get  involved in the legislative process by communicating with your representatives about issues that are important to you. Last week during our live “Rural Rapport,” we offered some tips for engaging with your legislators and also recorded a quick tutorial on how to navigate the state’s legislative website. You can find those videos below. If you don’t know who your legislators are, you can find them at this link.

How to be a rural advocate
Engaging with the South Dakota Legislature

Because of public health concerns due COVID-19, the South Dakota Legislature is implementing safety precautions during the session. This includes encouraging remote testifying during committee hearings.

Fun fact

Pierre, SD is the second-smallest capital city in the nation. At nearly 14,000 people it is almost twice as large as the smallest capital city, Montpelier, Vermont, which has a population of about 7,500.