South Dakota lawmakers already at odds before legislative session begins

Politics

South Dakota lawmakers are already at odds and the 2021 legislative session hasn’t even started.

An 11 page document obtained by KELOLAND News details safety recommendations for lawmakers to follow once they return to Pierre in January, but as you’re about to hear, not everyone is privy to these proposed restrictions.

According to the document, lawmakers will have to follow new guidelines when they return to Pierre, including wearing a mask.

“What we are going through at the moment, we are trying to locate the resources that we anticipate we need,” newly elected House Speaker Spencer Gosch said.

The plan calls for 16,000 disposable masks for lawmakers and 100,000 for lobbyists and the general public.

They’re also looking at air purifiers in workspaces and in private offices, including a supply of replacement filters.

Among other things, the plan calls for buying 300 bottles of hand sanitizer to be placed throughout the capitol, along with face shields and sneeze guards between desks upon request.

But the House Minority leader says he hasn’t seen the 11 page document.

“You know I hadn’t seen them until you pointed them out and I only saw what KELOLAND reported and then I had to reach out to some friends of mine who are Senators to get that, because this is not information we have in my caucus at least,” Representative Jamie Smith said.

Smith says lawmakers have been working on these recommendations for months now and working behind the scenes to put restrictions in place, but these recommendations circulating amongst certain lawmakers are news to him.

“I have no idea and it doesn’t bode well for the way the session is starting out, I mean clear communication is so important and having covid getting so politicized is absolutely not what our caucus wants to do, but our caucus will work hard to make sure people are safe and feel safe when they go to work,” Smith said.

Gosch says the recommendations are still a work in progress.

“That’s the tricky part, as you know, things are changing every day we have three companies with vaccinations coming forward and what does that look like; how far are we going to be, when will they be ready and of course the numbers, the numbers are a big thing too, they are changing every single day, so this likely will have to be a fluid proposal, a fluid procedure and we’ll have to roll with it as things come,” Gosch said.

The legislative session opens January 12th. After it opens, lawmakers will adopt some or all of the rules.

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