October 17, 2019

Now may be time to talk with legislators - Daily Leader Extra : Editorials

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Now may be time to talk with legislators

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Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019 2:49 pm

This isn't an election season in South Dakota, nor is it the start of the annual legislative session in Pierre. But it just might be the right time to seek out our local legislators and talk about issues.

South Dakota's law-making body is considered a "citizen legislature" because it meets for about two months each winter, with other responsibilities scattered throughout the year. In even-numbered years, the election process requires time from legislators, perhaps in the campaign season preceding the June primary, and more likely, the campaign season from late summer to the general election in early November.

All those are fine times to talk with legislators about important issues to our community and state, but we're competing with other voices. A campaign event like a parade is a nice time to shake a candidate's hand or wave, but it isn't a great time to talk about an important issue. The legislative session is heavily attended by both citizens and lobbyists, all asking for the ear of a legislator.

This time of year might be right. Any summer study sessions created by last year's legislature are probably complete, or nearly so. The next session starts in January. And our citizens legislators are living and working in our communities, which means we don't have to drive to Pierre to meet with them.

In many cases, a cup of coffee or another casual gathering time will be the ticket. Bills for the next session are being drafted right now, but there isn't a pending vote on any of them just yet. A thoughtful discussion out of the limelight may yield great ideas for an upcoming bill or amendment.

Our experience with our local legislators is that they are eager to meet and talk with citizens. A simple phone call or email is probably all it takes to set up a time.

-- Jon M. Hunter