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Republicans Reject All Amendments, Rubber-Stamp Noem’s Continued Use of Coronavirus Dollars as Slush Fund

Meeting in Special Session yesterday, the Legislature rubber-stamped Governor Kristi Noem’s wildly misdirected and self-serving use of the remaining $597 million remaining in coronavirus relief funds. Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) pans his colleagues’ non-performance:

The regular appropriations process was undermined and turned over, inappropriately, from the legislature to the executive branch… Tf there ever was an appropriation that was “special” this $1.4 billion was it. Rather than these funds being spent as a special appropriations bill, we instead only amended the existing general appropriations bill to give spending authority entirely to Governor Noem. We then wrote a memo to the Governor—not a bill, just a resolution—allowing her to spend as she pleases with a few of our suggestions. In short, the legislature failed to manage the public purse as directed by our constitution. We gave it to the Governor instead [Sen. Reynold Nesiba, press release, SDDP, 2020.10.05]

Democrats did offer some amendments to the non-binding suggestions for coronavirus relief spending that the Legislature approved. In the Senate, Senator Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission) suggested roping $2 million from the small business grant fund and given to rodeo workers who’ve lost money due to canceled events. Senator Heinert proposed directing $3.4 million to give Native American schools $500 per student. Senator Heinert asked to carve out $10 million to help local meat lockers expand. The Republican majority rejected all three amendments; the Native American education amendment came closest to passing, 14–20.

In the House, Representative Linda Duba (D-15/Sioux Falls) went straight to the heart of the pandemic and suggested that Governor Noem spend $15 million to improve rapid, point-of-care covid-19 testing capabilities and contact tracing. The Republican majority rejected that motion 13–57.

The Legislature took five and a half hours to do nothing. $597 million dollars thus remain entirely under the control of Governor Kristi Noem, who is likely to do little with that money to directly protect you and your family and friends from the coronavirus that is currently raging in our state thanks to the poor leadership and constant bad example set by her and her subservient Republican Legislature.


  1. David Newquist 2020-10-06 07:58

    The AAN story:
    Gov. Kristi Noem said Monday that South Dakota has given the rest of the country an example of how to navigate through a pandemic without heavy-handed government mandates.
    Noem spoke as South Dakota came off its worse month yet during the pandemic. The state has consistently broken records in recent weeks related to the rate of new cases, active cases, hospitalizations and the number of people killed by the virus.

  2. 96Tears 2020-10-06 08:10

    David – COVID Kristi’s apologists are lined up to mansplain how she’s been a responsible leader and you, well, you’re just a Big Government Socialist Fascist. They’re kind of vicious on Facebook and Twitter right now because they think they’re the Truth Shield to protect COVID Kristi, Trump and virtually all Republican office holders who’ve run like cowards from the reality of this virus and their neglect which made economic recovery much more costly and difficult. Now, if only they can keep playing the American public like suckers and losers until November 3rd.

    My fear is what happens if they succeed? Will they then start taking this seriously, or will things just keep falling apart while the body count jumps higher?

  3. mike from iowa 2020-10-06 08:11

    Besides, Noem Nothing doesn’t spend enough time in Northern Mississippi to qualify as a full time human, therefore she is not responsible for what happens in her state.

  4. Donald Pay 2020-10-06 13:17

    The Legislature might as well simply not bother to gavel into session if they refuse to take their constitutional duties seriously. The question needs to be asked: is it time to radically restructure the Legislative branch?

    There was an attempt to do so in the 70s, I believe. The commission that floated that attempt met citizen opposition because they tried to screw with the initiative and referendum. I can’t remember what else was in that proposed amendment, but it went down.

    Others over the years have suggested a nonpartisan unicameral, as in Nebraska. I’d be for that or any other measure that would cut the number of ciphers and nutcases down. A 25 member Senate is all the lawmakers needed.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-10-06 13:27

    The Legislature acted yesterday as if there is not public emergency, as if South Dakotans aren’t suffering disease and preventable death, as if they have no power and live in a bizarro constitutional monarchy where the legislators are figureheads and the Snow Queen has all the real power.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-10-06 13:27

    David’s quote from today’s headlines deserves its own post….

  7. Mike Livingston 2020-10-06 14:51

    The blind leading those who are unwilling to see. How can one repair a problem when they cannot admit that a problem exists? The grand ole party of political puppets and sheep has an answer to everything,take the money and run.

  8. leslie 2020-10-06 16:05

    Don, good idea. Not like our mayor top cop Allender isn’t studying revamp of RC common council w/homerule.

    Administratively the next 5 years will be Trail
    Paver unprecedented for the good of democracy. Make RBG proud!

  9. Bob Newland 2020-10-06 17:03

    For 20 years, I told the truth to these folks’ parents in the legisature. For 20 years, they rejected it in favor of inhuman meanness. I had some hope when these folks finally legalized hemp production. I was premature in that.

  10. grudznick 2020-10-06 17:49

    Mr. Pay’s idea is wonderfully righter-than-right. Fewer legislatures. Kick every single one of them today out and start all over anew. Make them work all year for their money, and work harder. The lobbists would actually grow bored sitting around that long doing nothing but reading the news papers and would go back to working harder at real jobs too.

  11. John 2020-10-06 21:41

    Why does South Dakota have a legislature? Seriously. When has the SD legislature ever in modern memory, provided a check on executive or judicial over-reach or in the case of the executive, malfeasance?

  12. James 2020-10-06 22:03

    Fortunately they stopped Troy from lining his pockets once again. Corruption is the mantra of Mr. Heinert

  13. leslie 2020-10-07 08:46

    Have you met Troy? He is outstanding. You would like grdz however.

  14. jerry 2020-10-07 08:58

    leslie, James is like the rest of the “R” in front of this name, should be changed to what they really are “F” for fascists.

    Yes, I’ve met Troy Heinert and many of his relatives. Good folks all.

  15. o 2020-10-07 09:54

    John, I think that your question is even more appropriate in the context of our single-party rule under hypnosis by the National GOP. More and more it feels like SD is the stalking horse or test case for the lunatic fringe of the Right/GOP/Trump party. National “issues” drive the work of our legislature. Agriculture, conservation, small community issues . . . all required a state legislature to address those issues because they were the legislators’ issues — not necessarily the issues of the whole nation. Partisan social warfare has relegated our issues out of our legislature. We are just a national legislature-light. We used to shake our heads at the nonsense in Washington; now we have fully embraced it as our own.

    Evan at the national level, state used to come before party; now I don’t even think state is part of the discussion.

    I blame political parties for destroying governance.

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