2020 SD Legislature: South Dakota is in a ‘good news,’ ‘bad news’ state of mind

By: 
Rep. Steve Haugaard, District 10

We are all ready for some GOOD NEWS. Some of that good news is retail business is beginning to find a new way of surviving these times. There are also some very innovative ideas developing which might turn this disaster into a way to prosper. One example is the development of local meat processing with direct to the consumer sales. That is likely a business which is long overdue and has a great chance for ongoing success. I expect that other locally produced ag commodities will also find new local marketing methods.

We are also learning that meetings, legal proceedings, and even local purchases can take place remotely. So, even in this very difficult time, there is a great potential for learning a new and better way to live. It appears that this innovation will have some very good and lasting results.  

Those possibilities bring us to the potential role of government. In light of this major shakeup, we will need to modify some of our state laws and many of the state and federal regulations to respond to these consequences as well as to meet some of these new opportunities.  

There are ongoing efforts from both the state and federal governments to infuse dollars intended to minimize the damage individuals and businesses are suffering. However, there is no tried and true formula for who needs what and how we can create a fair distribution. As a result, there are plenty of situations which are not what we intended. One example is the $600 per week unemployment supplement for some workers. That has allowed some to do better financially being “unemployed”. These programs should not become a disincentive to work.  Another is the distribution of zero interest business loans on a first-come first-served basis. Some loans also carry with them the potential to ultimately be forgiven. Many business owners have chosen to be inventive with their business or make use of their savings to survive. So, we look forward to striking a balance for those businesses in some form, possibly through a relaxation in tax burdens or regulations.

Recent projections as to the total loss of revenue across the states show that amount to be less than $200B. If that is correct, the first federal relief package was over 10 times that amount. The relief package was intended to meet the needs of both individuals and businesses, but I do hope our federal delegation can more carefully scrutinize any additional spending plans. Our federal debt has now reached a level that amounts to $75,000 for every man, woman and child. Our short-term pain should not force our children and grandchildren into long-term suffering.  

So, we all have much work ahead to find a new way of living life individually, as businesses, and as government. If we hold an optimistic view, we might come out of this better than when we started, but it will take a shared effort to do the next right thing.

Some of the statistics for us to bear in mind for this week are the COVID-19 numbers as well as some of the local crime and mental health statistics. The Covid numbers as of May 17, 2020, are:

• Eighty-six percent of the tests are negative; there are 77 persons currently hospitalized; a total of 312 have ever been hospitalized; 2,724 people have now recovered; there have been 3,987 tests given; and there are a total of 44 deaths. The trend lines are following a very similar path as we have seen with viruses in recent years. Hopefully, that will continue and we will see a brighter outlook this summer.  

The crime statistics for Sioux Falls comparing 2019 to 2020 (Timeframe March 15-April 26) are: Aggravated Assault, 61.5 percent increase; Simple Assault Domestic, 36.6 percent increase; Mental Health, 130 percent increase; Vandalism, 57.3 percent increase; and Disorderly Conduct, 525 percent increase. It is important to bear in mind these numbers when assessing our best steps moving forward. There are tradeoffs and the practice of business closings and individual isolating do have other consequences.  

Please keep in touch with any concerns or recommendations you have. You can contact me at steven.haugaard@sdlegislature.gov

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