PIERRE, SD (February 11, 2022) – Greetings from Pierre, I hope this message finds you and your family well! We have just completed week five of this year’s 96th Legislative Session. This week we saw various successes, but as always, we are staying diligent for the needs of South Dakotans.
A little over two weeks ago, I introduced SB 139, an act to provide for the creation and funding of Očéti Šakówiŋ community-based schools. I am happy to announce that not only has this bill passed Senate Education, but also the Senate Floor and is now on its way over to the House. As many of you may know, I have introduced similar legislation in the past three years to combat the lack of Indigenous acceptance and teachings in our public schools; something I find damning to the success of Indigenous students. This bill is paramount, as these students often face lower graduation rates than their counterparts. Our education system needs to support different models of education for Indigenous students; this bill will fix that.
In my last column, I mentioned I introduced SB 112, an act to transfer the Office of Indian Education to the Department of Education. Unfortunately, this bill was unable to make its way out of the Senate State Affairs Committee. I am truly disappointed in this outcome. We need to address the pitfalls produced by having the Office of Indian Education and the Department of Education separate, as there are inefficiencies that were exposed by Tribal educators during committee testimony. The Office of Indian Education deserves better.
We are happy to announce that HB 1005, an act to provide for the designated use of public school multi-occupancy rooms and sleeping rooms¸ or better known as the “bathroom bill,” failed in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday. Much like the women in sports bills aimed at transgender women athletes, this bill was an abhorrently unnecessary attack on our transgender youth.
I appreciate the continued trust you have shown in my Democratic colleagues and I to represent you in Pierre. You are invited to our caucus meetings which have always been open to the public; we meet before session. Your voice matters to us, and we believe that together, we can create a South Dakota that works for all of us.
Please contact me or any of my Democratic colleagues with your questions or concerns about the current session. My email is Troy.Heinert@sdlegislature.gov.