It was almost 11:30am and I was sitting in a small room tucked away on the third floor of the Capitol building where the Commerce Committee was discussing plumbing licensure. I was there because Carrie Sanderson thought we might be able to catch Representative Reed on his way out. I had done research earlier in the year that was helpful to him in drafting new legislation addressing sexual assault perpetrated by a person of influence on a minor age 16-17, and Carrie hoped to introduce us.
I was hungry and a little tired. As a rule, I am not a morning person and my day had begun at 5:50am. I spent the morning stuffing mugs and putting them on all the legislatures’ desks along with informational packets about Children’s Day. I toured the building, meeting representatives and lobbyists along the way. I had pleasant chats about the work I do for CPCM and how excited I was to be attending session, particularly as someone new to the area. I moved to South Dakota in the summer of 2019 to start my Master’s in Social Work at USD. I grew up in New England and completed my undergrad at the University of Florida, so I still feel as though I am learning my new home. Not only did I learn about the legislative process, I was also made to feel welcome.
We left the Commerce Committee room close to noon, the plumbing license debate still in full swing. After lunch and a few more introductions–including a brief conversation with Hunter Roberts, Interim Secretary of Agriculture–we found ourselves at the top of the stairs between the chambers speaking with Katie Hruska, Deputy General Counsel in the Governor’s Office. In a moment of truly good luck, Representative Reed came up the stairs. Carrie introduced me and we discussed the bill I had done research for, as well as several others of concern to all present. “We’re never leaving this spot,” Carrie said.
As we packed to leave, I met the Lieutenant Governor.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted but incredibly thankful for the opportunity to experience the legislative process. I love working at CPCM, but there are times when policy work feels slow and distant from the individuals and communities we are working to help. It was gratifying to see the next step of the process.