A little over a year ago I was elected to serve District 17 in the South Dakota House of Representatives. I am humbled for the opportunity to serve you in Pierre. On November 7-9th the South Dakota State Legislature convened for two special sessions one for redistricting and the other to lay out the foundation for the impeachment of current Attorney General, Jason Ravnsborg.
Redistricting is a constitutional requirement that occurs every ten years after the release of the federal census data. Normally the process is started in March and finalized after many months of conversations. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the data collecting for the census. The legislature received the final census numbers in June and was constitutionally obligated to get a map signed into law or else it would fall upon the South Dakota Supreme Court.
The special session on redistricting lasted all three days and consisted of many conversations over three possible legislative maps Blackbird which has the support of the Senate redistricting committee, Grouse which had the support of the House redistricting committee and when the two chambers could not agree from either of those maps they sat down and formed Sparrow.
I originally supported Blackbird because it focused on forming districts that had similarities while ignoring incumbents seeking possible re-election. When the deal was struck and Sparrow was agreed upon a lot of what was in Blackbird was still in Sparrow, including its intent. Far too often we have politicians that serve for themselves and their best interest. Additionally, I supported Sparrow because it put together urban areas like southern Union County and most of Clay County.
District 16 now is a more rural oriented district with parts of Union, Lincoln and Turner counties. Another important factor in redistricting is making compact districts in size and demographics. I am proud to have voted in supporting Sparrow because it was a compromise map, it did not focus on elections and it focused on the people.
The second special session was devoted to the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. There is a lot of confusion around this special session and what it accomplished. The South Dakota State Legislature has never impeached an elected official before.
When crafting the impeachment proceedings, it was essential that a strong foundation based upon a fair, transparent and effective process. I voted along with many of my colleagues to establish a special investigation committee to gather evidence and information. The committee will then report back to the house with a recommendation to impeach or not to impeach.
As the regular legislative session approaches in January, please feel free to contact me with your concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.