The South Dakota Legislature has released its safety protocols which are designed to protect those who are working and attending the legislative session in Pierre which begins on next week. (January 12th)
District 5 Senator Lee Schoenbeck, President-Elect Pro Tempore, says while it is important that legislators fulfill their duties as they have in previous years, this year's priority is that they do so safely.
Schoenbeck said, "Members of the legislature have battled COVID themselves, had family members contract it, or been exposed to others who have had it. We know the situation in our state, and plan to do what we can to mitigate the spread. But we still understand that legislative business has to go on,"
House Speaker-Elect Representative Spencer Gosch says like everything else during a pandemic, it is a delicate balance between doing what needs to be done and finding a way to do it safely.
The new protocols include:
- Allowing legislators to attend and vote remotely under certain circumstances and with leadership approval;
- Requiring face coverings for all individuals in spaces under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Senate;
- Encouraging face coverings for all spaces under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota House of Representatives;
- Limiting seating in the Senate and House galleries;
- Providing person protective equipment (PPE) for members and staff;
- Encouraging remote testifying during legislative committee meetings; and
- Promoting the use of digital documents.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are scheduled to convene at 12:00 p.m. (CT) on January 12, 2021.