SIOUX FALLS, SD -
On Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers will make their way through the doors of the state capitol ready for South Dakota's 88th Legislative Session. And 14 of the 30 members from Sioux Falls it will be there for the first time.
"I'm really looking forward to being an active participant in the conversation," Rep. Mark Mickelson said.
"I'm excited, I'm humbled, I'm hopeful," Rep. Karen Soli said.
"I decided to go and make a difference for South Dakota in a different way," Rep. Paula Hawks said.
Hawks is a teacher and a mother, with her youngest only being two years old. She is on the Education and Health and Human Service Committees and is proud to hold those positions.
"It's near and dear to me. I'm deeply interested in my heart and in my passion for what I do and to make sure I'm representing those people to the best of my abilities," Hawks said.
Mickelson has traveled to Pierre countless times throughout his life. But this is his first time as a lawmaker. He is not a stranger to South Dakota politics. His father, George S. Mickelson and grandfather, George T. Mickelson, both served as South Dakota governors.
"At the dinner table we would have conversations. He and my mom would have conversations about this issue or that issue. So my siblings and I certainly grew up with that as part of our mind set, 'What's in the best interest of the public?'" Mickelson said.
Mickelson says 19 years have gone by since his father was in office and that it's time for another Mickelson to step foot inside the capitol.
And from education to workforce development to the state budget, many issues could be discussed this session. But criminal reform could soon come to the forefront.
"I know that if we don't do some reform we're going to be looking at some pretty significant investments in jails and prisons and that takes away from schools and health care," Mickelson said.
"We need to find ways not just to punish but to help people find ways out of the swirling reality of drug addiction. And I know the drug courts hold more than a lot of promise," Soli said.
Soli, a Lutheran Pastor, says she will look to veterans to help her learn the ropes.
"I've got a lot to learn but as I campaigned I am ready to listen, I am ready to learn and I'm ready to lead," Rep Soli said.
It doesn't matter which side of the aisle they will sit on when they get to Pierre, they all agree this new session will be an educational experience as they make a difference in the Rushmore State.
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