Greetings friends, neighbors, fellow tribal members, and especially to the District 26 constituents. The 94thLegislative Session is underway and I want to thank you for the privilege and responsibility of serving as your Senator! I am looking forward to this year’s session, as every year is another opportunity to make policy that is beneficial to District 26 and its residents. My session committee assignments are State Affairs, Ag and Natural Resources, and Education, I also serve as the chair of the State/Tribal Relations Committee and the Chair of the Corrections Commission during the interim. These committees are extremely important and I am ready to use my experience and the direction I get from you all to keep the interests of District 26 in the forefront.
Following my Senate re-election, our caucus selected me to be the Senate Minority Leader. I am extremely humbled to be the first Native American to be elected this position in South Dakota. As Minority Leader I will be working with our Caucus, the Majority Leader, and the Governor’s office on the direction of the South Dakota Senate.
Governor Noem delivered the State of the State Address on the opening day of Session. In her address, she touched on a few agenda items that I am sure we can agree on. One of these items is workforce development housing. Our caucus has brought this issue up during numerous legislative sessions. It is our hope that we can work together and take the best ideas from everyone to implement this policy. Governor Noem spent a considerable amount of time talking about increasing pheasant habitat. Pheasant hunting in South Dakota is a real draw for people to our State and many small communities rely on the revenue that comes with it. With that said, we have to be smart about how we approach this policy, we cannot sacrifice one industry for another. We haven’t seen the exact plan as of yet and I will appreciate your input as it unfolds.
I was extremely concerned that there was no mention of healthcare or the nursing home crisis that we are facing in South Dakota. We often talk about workforce and economic development but both of these issues cannot be addressed without a healthy population. Access to affordable and quality care is becoming more and more difficult in our State, especially on our Reservations. We will be submitting legislation in the coming weeks to address this problem and I am hopeful that Governors office will work with us to alleviate this problem. The nursing home crisis is real and getting worse daily. With the closure of nursing homes, especially in small communities, our elderly population and their families are quickly running out of options for care. Any input you may have would be greatly appreciated, our elders deserve better.
We were honored to hear from Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux who delivered the State of the Tribes Address last Thursday. President Bordeaux’s address covered many topics, not only the struggles in Indian Country but also the many positives in Indian Country. I appreciate his call to action for Tribes and the State to work in cooperation to combat the meth epidemic that is plaguing our State. Meth and opioid abuse is in every community and I support his idea of a Meth Summit where we can discuss all options to combat not only its use and distribution but also prevention, treatment options, and family counseling in local areas. I was also pleased to hear him bring up the issues of Medicaid Expansion, the Keystone XL Pipeline and honoring the Treaties. The legislature needed to hear the other side of the story on these issues and I look forward to working with President Bordeaux and other Tribal Leaders to get that message out.
As I begin to draft the legislation that I will be introducing, I would be happy to work on legislation for you as well. If you have any issues that require a legislative action please reach out to me. I truly enjoy working for you and I thank you for this responsibility. You may reach me by phone at 605-319-6570 or email at Troy.Heinert@sdlegislature.gov.