The South Dakota legislature convened Monday for a one-day special session on how to spend the remaining roughly 2/3rds of the $1.2-billion dollar in coronavirus stimulus funds received by the state.
A plan had been hammered out in advance after a series of public input meetings around the state and several legislative committee session, and a bill adopting the plan was approved. The session ended a short time later.
Time was of the essence – any of the money the state hasn’t spent by the end of the year reverts back to the federal government. Much of the money will go to community health centers-and businesses that have struggled as a result of the pandemic.
House Speaker Steve Haugaard says relief will find its way to South Dakotans despite the tight timeline, adding that “Making sure that we can get these grants out sooner than later was the real issue
The session started with roughly a fifteen-minute opening address from Governor Kristi Noem, who again insisted she’s provided a blueprint of how to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic without heavy-handed government mandates.
Noem said that although her resistance to statewide stay-at-home orders has drawn criticism, she has provided a different and science-driven approach to managing the pandemic.
Noem’s address came as the number of active COVID-19 cases in South Dakota set another record at 4,274 – including 241 who area hospitalized.
The South Dakota Dept of Health reported 181 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 24,598 while 174 more recoveries, pushed that total at 20,076. The number of COVID-19 deaths in the state remains at 248.
South Dakota has the second-highest coronavirus positivity rate of any state over the past two weeks.