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 sd.net.
Senator Brock Greenfield, President Pro Tempore, says while the “electronic” Veto Day may be unusual, given current events, it is necessary.
“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. 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,” Greenfield said.
According to House Speaker Representative Steven Haugaard, 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 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.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are scheduled to convene at 11:00 a.m. (CT).