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Historic First: South Dakota Legislature to Meet and Vote Online Monday!

The South Dakota Legislature takes my advice and moves Veto Day online!

According to a press release issued this morning, the South Dakota Legislature will conduct its final scheduled day of business online on March 30 at 11 a.m. Central:

Turn it up to 11....
Crank up the bandwidth: we’re legislating online!

When the South Dakota Legislature meets on March 30, 2020 for its last scheduled day of the 2020 session, to consider bills vetoed by the Governor, there will be plenty of social distance between members. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the guidance to limit the size of gatherings to fewer than ten people, Veto Day business will be conducted electronically.

Legislators will participate remotely from their residences via electronic conference. South Dakota Public Broadcasting will provide livestream coverage of the session, making the process open to the public electronically, but not physically. The electronic feed can be accessed through the Legislative Research Council website or [Legislative Research Council, press release, 2020.03.25].

This is the first time the South Dakota Legislature has ever met online, an action made possible by SDCL 1-25-1.5. And since all the kids are home from school, they can all add watching the Legislature in action to their home-school homework plans! Yay, history and social studies!

Representative Bob Glanzer (R-22/Huron) is fighting off covid-19 in the ICU at Avera in Sioux Falls; we can only hope he’ll be feeling strong enough to call in Monday and cast his votes for District 22. But thanks to convening online, our 104 other legislators can reduce their risk of getting sick by staying and doing the people’s business by wire.

Now, let’s just hope LRC can get clear, simple instructions to all of the legislators so they can connect.


  1. jerry 2020-03-25 15:11

    Cory, you’re just ahead of the curve. There really is no need for legislators to be in Pierre in the first place when we have the telecommunications that we have today.

    In Japan, this virus has completely turned Japan’s workforce attitude on it’s head regarding working remotely.

    “After discovering that an employee had contracted COVID-19, Dentsu Group Inc. immediately closed its headquarters and ordered its 5,000 employees to work from home. Daiwa Securities Group Inc., which employs 10,000 people, created a telework system that allows employees with small children to work from home. The labor ministry’s announcement this week to provide subsidies of up to ¥1 million to small and medium-sized enterprises to cover half the cost of introducing telework should help such firms make the transition.

    It is time for Japanese firms to change their mindset and promote telecommuting. The move will require preparation, such as setting up online communications systems. Once such systems are established, they can also be utilized in the event of natural calamities such as typhoons and earthquakes — an invaluable measure in this disaster-prone country.

    By allowing employees to work remotely, fathers can become more involved in child-rearing and other household duties, which will help relieve the lopsided burden that many mothers — especially those who also work — are forced to shoulder. After taking a short child care leave, Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said that he came to realize how hard it is for a single parent to take care of a baby.”

  2. grudznick 2020-03-25 15:26

    The Council of Researching for the Legislatures has proven less than ept at certain past endeavors. Let us hope they have all the things hooked up right. How will the lobbists be able to schmooze the legislatures the night before, except one at a time in their home towns? And Mr. H is very right, for some of these fellows are probably less than ept themselves at computing over the internets. Can you imagine 68 different people raising their electronic hand to yell “Mr. Speaker!!!!” and then the fun of having those fellows on that side of the building having to vote without pushing red or green, unless the Council has made a new phone app with a red button and a green button that only the legislatures have. There will be speeches cut off mid-sentence, and Max Headroom-room-room like Zappas and Huzzahs. It will be great fun.

  3. Donald Pay 2020-03-25 15:41

    These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary adjustments. In ordinary times, government should run as it normally does.

    Veto sessions concern bills that have had hearings and floor sessions. Citizens have already had the opportunity to testify, lobbyists to lobby and leaders to twist arms. Usually the pros and cons are well-known. The only thing to consider is whether the Governor’s veto message is persuasive enough to sustain the veto. It’s probably more of a problem for the Governor. She and her staff won’t have as easy access to legislators to make their points to each legislator individually and in a group.

    Sometimes new legislation pops up on veto day. It might be harder to slam stuff through with an on-line session. On the other hand, it might be far easier to slip nefarious stuff in. I haven’t seen the calendar, so I have no idea how they would deal with all this extra stuff should it come up. I assume the budget assumptions have changed quite a bit, and they will have to deal with that at some point.

  4. Curt 2020-03-25 15:41

    Since ‘veto day’ is only Legislative Day 37 of the Session, would the Legislature have the option to extend its calendar by one or more days in order to deal with COVID -19 matters?

  5. John 2020-03-25 20:14

    Amazing how the 21st century finally hits the SD legislature in their collective saggy arses. The SD legislature is only 40+ years behind the Unified Judicial System with consolidating and getting on line. Surprising how a pack of old men get their shorts in a bunch over a little flu and cough.

    Cory, certainly you’ve seen the news of the 9 walk-aways from the women’s prison after learning an inmate tested positive. This led to the warden’s resignation. A Monument cancer ward health care worker in Sturgis tested positive after contacts with 112 folks. — but it’s all a democratic hoax according to the orange man. Good thing that Noem held the cases “steady”:

    The only way to react to an emergency is to overreact. The orange man and his ‘sister’ Noem failed.

    The SD legislature better convene a special session for the budget. SD will likely have a minimal tourist season / revenues until there is a virus vaccination. The Black Hills National Forest closed their recreation facilities for the spring. It’s likely those closures will continue at least through the mid-summer. These are likely the similar situations for the national parks, monuments, and memorials. Even Deadwood is ramping down. Ethanol (corn) sales may also fall off a cliff with $25/barrel oil and no one driving. Of course the real problem is the SD taxation economy is built on a house of foreign visitors cards. Like folks are saying about Senator Rand Paul now, “pick yourself up by your boot straps”.

  6. Debbo 2020-03-25 20:20

    Speaker Pelosi wants the US House to meet virtually to pass the new coronavirus bill by unanimous consent. They will have to come to DC if even one member disagrees. If the virtual meeting happens, that will be a first too.

    Axios has the bill outlined:

  7. grudznick 2020-03-25 20:24

    I bet you a virtual gravy-laden breakfast one member disagrees.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-25 21:23

    As John notes, there are certainly plenty of reasons to convene a special Session, or use the 38th, 39th, and 40th days, as Curt suggests. Article 3 Section 6, which we amended with Amendment I in 2008, sets the maximum for regular Session at 40 days. I’m actually not sure what the rules are for invoking a 38th day after the calendar has been set for 37. ANyone know?

  9. Debbo 2020-03-25 23:11

    Cory, that’s pretty much what I gleaned from Axios and commented above.

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