Hearing from constituents and the 2021 legislative session so far

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A robust connection between lawmakers and their constituents is a part of any fluid, working democracy. Saturday, people had a chance to ask their legislators questions while sipping on coffee, either in person or online.

The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce is hosting three Legislative Coffee events this year to give people a chance to ask their legislators questions about issues. Saturday’s event hosted lawmakers from Districts 6, 9 and 13.

“You know, I’ve been here in the past, in the audience. This is obviously my first time as a legislator, but, it’s different, but it’s a good experience as well,” Rep. Aaron Aylward (R) of Harrisburg said.

“There’s a lot of the bills that are brought up at these kinds of coffees that I haven’t had time to research or haven’t heard of, so it brings some knowledge to me on those bills and that’s great. People have been just really fantastic on bringing some good issues and I learn from my other Representatives and Senators that are here,” Sen. Jack Kolbeck (R) of Sioux Falls said.

Topics covered at the Legislative Coffee included the death penalty, funding for education and Medicaid expansion. The ongoing session in Pierre has seen 17 legislative days come and go so far.

“It’s went fast, you know. Being a person on the outside looking in, it may not seem that way, but when you get in there, things go very, very fast. You’re busy from early morning into the evening, so it’s almost been like a blink of an eye,” Aylward said.

COVID-19 has changed the legislative process.

“It’s a different session, and I’ll just be honest with you, with the COVID pandemic. We don’t get to see the people that we like to see, people are not coming out to Pierre like they would normally,” Kolbeck said.

There are now 20 legislative days left in the session.

“This last week it got pretty busy, I know it’s going to get more so, but I think some more interesting bills will be coming up and I know there are a few that strengthen what I call ‘federalism,’ just strengthening our state as a whole, making South Dakota a better state overall,” Aylward said.

“So we got some excess money to spend, what we call ‘one-time funding.’ I’m really excited about looking forward to that,” Kolbeck said.

The next Legislative Coffee hosted by the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for two weeks from today from 10 to 11:45 in the morning.

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