Governor’s policy director answers questions about COVID-19 and Legislature’s final day

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Her policy director said Saturday that Governor Kristi Noem still plans for state lawmakers to return March 30 for the end of the 2020 session.

Maggie Seidel answered questions from KELOLAND News Capitol reporter Bob Mercer.

How did Governor Noem describe state government’s revenue situation in the call with legislators Friday night?
Seidel: We have heard from small business owners, those in the tourism industry, and countless others all across South Dakota, we are very aware of the economic toll this virus is inflicting on our state. She encouraged legislators to think about revisiting every aspect of the budget. 

When will the next conference call with legislators be?
Seidel: Soon. We are working very closely with them to coordinate response efforts. 

There are 80 bills that the governor hasn’t announced a decision, according to LRC. Many are appropriations. Is she holding off decisions on the spending bills because state government isn’t receiving revenue at the expected pace?
Seidel: Our legal team is working through all the legislation. That process takes some time. 

Is the governor planning for the legislators to assemble Monday, March 30? Or is another date now being considered?
Seidel: Yes. She is encouraging those who are sick or in the vulnerable population to stay home. We will be working with (state) Health Department officials to screen people as they come into the Capitol. 

Is the governor considering a special session at some later time, or having the Legislature adopt a calendar change while staying within the 40-day limit, to make changes to the current budget and/or the coming budget?
Seidel: Not at this time. 

Is it possible for the Legislature to meet electronically, whether March 30 or another date? If so, is that under consideration?
Seidel: This isn’t necessary at this time. 

The governor said she would sign the hemp bill, but to this point she hasn’t. It contains funding for spending, too. Is the spending the reason she hasn’t yet signed it?
Seidel: Our attorneys are working through their processes. 

What is the governor’s perspective on the Argus Leader editorial and the Rapid City Journal editor’s column that were critical of COVID-19 efforts by her and her administration?
Seidel: The governor is using science, data, and fact to inform her decision-making. The proactive steps she has taken have kept untold South Dakotans safe. We encourage people to continue following CDC guidance about social distancing, good hygiene, and self-isolation if they are in the vulnerable population. We will get through this.

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