Given South Dakota’s small, conservative population, it should come as no surprise that it has a fittingly small government. No matter the size of the government, it still takes time to run a state.
Right now, South Dakota isn’t even giving the legislature time to think. The South Dakota state constitution limits the length of time that a legislative period can take.
As a young voter, I feel weary of participating in the democratic process knowing legislators may rush through important decisions.
To eliminate the threat of a controversy over political issues and the very democratic process, the state constitution of South Dakota should be amended to extend the length of our legislative sessions.
Last year the nation remembered South Dakota exists with the introduction of HB 112, but it wasn’t a kind spotlight.
The bill gained attention for being the first passed to not allow transgender students to use the restroom of the gender they identify with. HB 112 was shortly vetoed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, and there were no widespread resulting policy changes.
The 2016 Legislative Session lasted just over three months and had a total of 38 legislative days. Those 38 days were meant to be enough for 493 votes in both houses.
Assuming complete efficiency, there would need to be at least 13 votes a day in both houses. Even if the legislators were in session for 12 hours a day, they couldn’t get through every consideration. That means every speech, every meeting and every bit of political ridiculousness would need to be confined to less than an hour each. So when a controversial bill like HB 112 comes around and requires greater amount of time, there is less time for further debate.
Today’s voter base is changing rapidly. Our millennial generation skews heavily liberal. If young liberals want to be heard, they need time. Senators and Representatives represent the people, but they ultimately follow the platform they run on and vote and act as they believe.
Until our generation ages into political power, the older, conservative generations only have so much time to deal with issues, and they’re going to see to their personal preferences, like the Bathroom Bill, instead of things that might matter to younger people, like student debt reform.
Compared to other states, our legislative sessions are significantly shorter. Even conservative states like Georgia and Alabama have longer sessions. Although these states have larger populations, people are still affected.
This isn’t something that has been a major problem — yet. It could become a problem, especially if younger, possibly more liberal, demographics want a voice. Or even just another conservative measure that really needs to be passed.
Ultimately, there shouldn’t be even a chance that a bill from either side of the aisle wouldn’t be seen because of time constraints.
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Democracy has limiting factors, voter turnout and party politics to name a few. Time doesn’t need to be holding the state back.