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How the Legislature Should Respond to Coronavirus

Given that the Legislature is showing its willingness to hoghouse bills at the last minute for surprise purposes, I propose several new bills that the Legislature should enact this week to address the coronavirus’s threat to public health in South Dakota:

  1. Expand Medicaid to ensure low-income South Dakotans have access to testing and treatment for coronavirus.
  2. Revive and pass House Bill 1050 to allow online voter registration.
  3. Authorize the Secretary of State to immediately adopt an electronic petitioning system that will allow candidates and ballot question committees to collect signatures online in order to access the 2020 ballot.
  4. Create a system of voting by mail in which the Secretary of State will send ballots to every registered voter (and require the Secretary to enclose envelopes with peelable sticky flaps, not licky glue!).
  5. Triple funding and staffing for Northern’s Center for Statewide E-Learning to help schools move curriculum online to ensure children’s education is not disrupted while their schools shut down for “deep cleaning” and other responses to coronavirus.
  6. Disburse emergency funds to school districts to distribute school meals to low-income students during extended school closures.

If the Legislature can whip up $10 million to lay a couple hundred miles of fresh gravel out to Caleb Finck’s house, surely it can come up with some good practical ideas to keep democracy, education, and daily life flowing amidst a public health crisis.


  1. mike from iowa 2020-03-11 16:07

    U of iowa Hospital has received forst Covid-19 patient, in critical condition, and there are 13 presumptive cases in iowa so far.

    The lege needs to do stuff fast to get/stay ahead of this stuff as it spreads rapidly.

  2. Debbo 2020-03-11 18:15

    Good plans. In addition can #2 get Secrecy Sap to stop hiding info on the virus in the USA from us? I mean, if he’s #2, he ought to be worth something to SD. Can he actually do the state any good? Getting the facts is critical to every state official and every person within the borders.

    C’mon #2! Help your state out! Be a hero instead of a doormat!

  3. Debbo 2020-03-11 18:16

    COVID-19 may bring us the fairest election we’ve had in many years. How, you ask? Read this, no paywall.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-11 18:56

    Interesting, Debbo! If a pandemic makes GOP base voters more afraid to go out and vote than Dem base voters, Republicans would almost have to back emergency measures for by-mail voting.

    I’m afraid the Legislature can’t mandate anything at the federal level (I assume the #2 to whom you refer is Thune, who is mostly useless.) As your next Governor, I promise to approach crises like the current outbreak with a Janklovian zeal for pushing new policy solutions into place. When the Legislature is in Session for only nine weeks, it should use every single day to think of new ideas and respond to arising situations.

    Hmm… maybe coronavirus finally popping up in South Dakota during the last week of Session shows one example of why having the option to hoghouse could actually be useful.

  5. mike from iowa 2020-03-11 19:02

    drumpf won’t declare a state of emergency because that would clash with his cavalier diagnosis that c-virus is akin to the flu, not many more times more dangerous.

  6. Loren 2020-03-11 19:15

    Debbo, if you would like a sheet of GOP daily talking points, write to #2 and tell him how you feel. That’s all I’ve ever gotten from him. I can’t express my feeling toward Smiley here on a family forum. ;-)

  7. Debbo 2020-03-11 20:28

    No thanks Loren.

    Though I spent nearly all of my first 50 years in SD, I live in Minnesota now. I have real Senators and a real Representative in my district. They ask us what we want and then they go to DC to try to make that happen. None of them are good at being told what to do by party leadership. They’re all Democratic women and that makes light years of difference.

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar
    Sen. Tina Smith
    Rep. Angie Craig

    Seriously, it’s night and day compared to SD. They really do have my back.

  8. Debbo 2020-03-11 20:34

    The only back #2 has is Moscow Mitch’s. He’s devoted to that job and that one only. Why he dutifully followed that back to Russia to celebrate Independence Day there with Pootie. Or something like that.

    (I think Moscow Mitch lets #2 take the ring out of his nose when he appears in public. He has to snap it right back in as soon as the cameras are off. Moscow Mitch loops the attached chain around his little finger. That way #2 is always right there to clean up MM’s #2, or whatever.)

  9. Debbo 2020-03-11 23:54

    The NBA has halted their season. This is probably the end of it till fall. That’s a huge pile of $$$$$$ going away.

  10. Donald Pay 2020-03-12 08:51

    How are they handling the state basketball tournaments in SD? In Wisconsin, they are doing nothing to limit the crowd sizes, at least as of this morning. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I can’t think of a better way to spread the disease across a state than to have a lot of people in one spot for three days, then moving back to their communities. The Big Ten, as of today, are playing with no fans in the stands for their Tournament.

  11. Donald Pay 2020-03-12 14:47

    Wisconsin Governor declared an emergency and the WIAA responded by restricting crowds at basketball tournaments to parents of team members only.

  12. mike from iowa 2020-03-12 14:52

    MLB has suspended spring training.

  13. Debbo 2020-03-12 15:37

    And the NCAA just canceled all the March tournaments. Argh!

  14. Debbo 2020-03-14 01:35

    Here’s something else for the lege to consider, help for farmers. As if things weren’t bad enough for them, now COVID-19:

    “The beef cattle market has collapsed in the past two months. Milk demand is threatened by school closures. Pork prices remain stubbornly low.

    “The coronavirus pandemic is, unsurprisingly, hurting farmers.

    “’You know what’s happened to the stock market. Cattle market’s the same,’ said Tom Revier of Revier Cattle Co. near Olivia, Minn. ‘It’s like catching falling knives.’

    “Beef prices had rallied thanks to surging demand in China after swine fever devastated that country’s hog population, but the rally ended with the coronavirus outbreak. Prices are down 21% over the past two months.”
    Strib paywall

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