PIERRE — The South Dakota Legislature will conduct its final day of the legislative session electronically on Monday, March 30 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, officials said.
The Legislature will gather to consider bills vetoed by Gov. Kristi Noem and both houses will convene at 11 a.m. Monday.
According to the Legislative Research Council, legislators will participate remotely from their residences via electronic conference. South Dakota Public Broadcasting will provide livestream coverage of the session online, making the process open to the public electronically, but not physically. (The electronic feed can be accessed through the Legislative Research Council website or sd.net.)
Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, who serves as President Pro Tempore, said while the "electronic" Veto Day may be unusual, given current events, it is necessary. According to the LRC website, two bills have been vetoed by Noem regarding style-and-form changes to the state's codified laws.
"We're all committed to doing whatever we can as lawmakers and just as people to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in South Dakota," Greenfield said in a statement. "As important as it is to wrap up our legislative business on March 30, it's just as important that we do it without putting anyone's health in jeopardy."
According to House Speaker Representative Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, that concern extends to members of the public.
"The legislature is a public process and we welcome participation by the public. Normally, this is done through contacting legislators, testifying in committee, or watching floor debate from the gallery. But no one should put themselves or others at risk of coming in contact with COVID-19 by attending Veto Day in person this year," said Haugaard.
Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert, D-Mission, says public service and public safety were both considerations in the decision.
"We've covered a lot of important issues during this session but none so important as what's going on in our state, across the country, and around the world right now. We need to finish out our work, but we don't want to put people at risk to do it," Heinert said.