Note to readers: This daily report will be updated throughout each working day of the South Dakota Legislature’s 2021 session that runs through March 29.
CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH: Republican Senator Jim Bolin has built a reputation as a history buff during the 13 years he’s been at the statehouse. His latest: Make Juneteenth a working holiday.
Bolin’s legislation comes after Governor Kristi Noem last summer issued a Juneteenth proclamation. According to the bill, June 19 was the day in 1865 when “the slaves in Texas, a geographically remote region of the confederacy, were officially informed by units of the United States military that the Civil War was over, that slavery in the United States had been abolished, and that the slaves were now free persons.”
Democratic Senator Reynold Nesiba of Sioux Falls has also shown interest in a Juneteenth holiday.
WHAT IT MEANS: In South Dakota, the concept of ‘working holiday’ gained traction among legislators in the 1990s. It’s basically a date that some people think deserves annual recognition but doesn’t quite break through the imprecise definition of a paid holiday.
South Dakota laws include at least 11 other working holidays denoting people and events.
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, March 30, added in 2013.
Joe Foss Day, April 17, added in 2004.
Arbor Day, the last Friday in April, added in 1998.
Little Big Horn Recognition Day, June 25, added in 1994.
Day of the American Cowboy, the fourth Saturday of July, added in 2014.
Purple Heart Recognition Day, August 7, added in 2013.
Peter Norbeck Day, August 27, added in 2018.
POW/MIA Recognition Day, the third Friday of September, added in 2013.
Statehood Day, November 2, added in 2001.
Bill of Rights Day, December 15, added in 1998.
Wounded Knee Day, December 29, added in 1994.
OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS: South Dakota lists 10 actual holidays starting with New Year’s Day on January 1, Memorial Day on the last Monday in May, Independence Day on July 4, Labor Day on the first Monday in September, Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November, and Christmas Day on December 25.
Others are Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday in January, added in 1990; Presidents Day on the third Monday in February; Native Americans’ Day on the second Monday in October, added in 1990; and Veterans’ Day on November 11.
South Dakota became the first state to formally honor Native Americans in 1990 when the Legislature replaced Pioneer Day, a working holiday, which had been Columbus Day. State lawmakers also approved Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an official holiday that same session. Then-Governor George S. Mickelson had proclaimed 1990 as a year of reconciliation with Native Americans.
State law by the way also says a legal holiday can be “every day appointed by the President of the United States, or the Governor of this state for a public fast, thanksgiving or holiday.”
COVID-19 LIABILITY: A state lawmaker wants to take South Dakota to a place Congress hasn’t yet gone regarding legal immunity over the spread of COVID-19.
Representative David Anderson has introduced legislation that would limit liability to instances where COVID-19 was intentionally transmitted.
Anderson, a rural Hudson farmer, owns an insurance agency and has served on the board of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.