This session I was able to cosponsor and in- fluence multiple pieces of legislation. My seats on the Judiciary and State Affairs committees have provided our dis- trict to have a real impact and voice in the Senate. I was also able to author and be prime sponsor to three separate bills to re- form our criminal justice system and take the first real steps in reducing the pain killer and meth epi- demics we have been un- able to reign in thus far.
My first bill to go through committee was SB 141. In this bill, we re- moved cannabis related charges that happened prior to July 1, 2021 from the public facing back- ground check (still avail- able to law enforcement and court personnel) if cannabis was the highest offense charged (mean- ing there can’t be a worse crime involved) and the individual has success- fully completed their court sentence. This law may not seem like a big deal to a lot of us, but it would be a game chang- er for those it affects. In the last 10 years, this has affected nearly 32,000 people in our state (99.1 percent had no weapons or violence, 98.2 per- cent had marijuana as the only charge, 70 per- cent had less than seven grams – voters just ap- proved 28 grams – and 63 percent are under the age of 25). When we place these lifelong charges on our youth’s public back- ground checks, we are preventing them from qualifying for education- al aid, career opportuni- ties, the ability to adopt later in life and a whole host of other barriers. This bill is supported by 70 percent of Americans as of December 2020. It provides these individ- uals a path forward to success. The voters of District 1, and our state, made it clear they believe we are over-charging our citizens and I am working for ways to rec- tify those mistakes of the past and promote a better path forward. I was able to get the bill out of the
Senate Committee with five “yea” votes and one no vote. It will head to the full Senate Feb. 22.
My other project will be SB 183. I didn’t write this bill but I am fighting on the senate floor for it to be amended. The bill came out of committee saying it was a class 6 fel- ony for parties involved in drafting contracts that include an abortion clause (surrogacy con- tracts) and if such clause exists in the contract, the entire contract is void. I was the only vote against the bill in committee. The bill made it to the Senate floor Feb. 17 and was amended to keep the felony, but just strike that clause of the contract, not the entire thing. I was able to use a proce- dural motion to delay the vote until Feb. 22, with hopes of having time to convince my fellow Sena- tors to adopt my amend- ment which would take away the felony and just void those provisions of a contract making them legally unenforceable. It is a fair compromise to protect the unborn, while still allowing all parents the joy (and some days headache) of having chil- dren. Our moral compass tells us abortion is wrong but that same moral com- pass teaches the value and importance of hav- ing a family. I will not vote against a family, that is who I represent. I can’t justify voting to catch a few bad actors at the cost of countless families losing the ability to start their families in South Dakota.