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SUTTON: The home stretch of the legislative session

Last week, all the Senate bills have moved onto the House, and we are into the home stretch of the 93rd legislative session with just one week remaining.

I was happy to have my son, Liam, and my parents visit the Capitol this week. There's something indescribable and humbling about bringing my son to this place where I and my colleagues work hard to improve our state for his and future generations. It puts our work into perspective and reminds us of the bigger picture — the reasons we ran for office and show up ready to make a difference every day.

One of these "big picture" bills I was happy to support this week was legislation that established a State Veterans Cemetery in Sioux Falls. As a co-sponsor of SB 91, I recognize the respect we owe our service men and women in both life and death, and one way to show that respect is by allowing them to be honorably buried in close proximity to their loved ones so they can pay frequent visits. Service members spend so much of their lives away from home, making that sacrifice for all of us. It is our duty and honor to make sure families can feel close to their heroes in their final resting place. Thank you to those individuals and organizations that made this project a reality; it was my pleasure to support this bill.

One theme of this session that I think has missed the mark on the "big picture" is the attack on the initiated measure process. South Dakota was the very first state to adopt the initiated measure process back in 1898, and we take great pride in this tradition of citizen involvement in creating the laws we all live by. This tradition has served us well for 120 years and continues to exemplify exactly what makes this state so great: our people.

The Legislature has taken aim at this essential process in recent years, first with last year's repeal of IM 22 and now with 20 bills attacking the process this year. There have been several bills to make petition circulation much more difficult. Another piece of legislation aimed to require legislative approval of all voter-approved constitutional amendments.

One resolution sought to end citizen-initiated constitutional amendments altogether. I reject the notion that legislators are the only people who should have input in our laws and find it hypocritical to diminish the power of the same voter who elected us to represent them. Our voters are informed, engaged, common-sense citizens who have just as much right to help make our laws as we do because ultimately our power as elected officials is really only borrowed from theirs. We must diligently uphold this South Dakota tradition and make sure the process lives on for generations to come.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that the people with the most power in our government are scared of the people and the change the people sometimes demand. Our state government is one of the least transparent in the nation, and now the establishment is trying to strip the people of their power to initiate change. It's a dangerous combination, and I think we're ready for a new approach. As we finish up this session, if you have ideas and/or concerns please don't hesitate to contact me. I love to hear from engaged folks all over the state. I am your voice in Pierre. As always, I'm honored to continue working hard for this place we all call home.