The South Dakota House of Representatives opted to go for remote legislation yesterday after the number of the COVID-19 cases surged. The confirmed cases in the House have jumped to eight in a matter of a few days. It’s an alarming situation for the rest of the representatives.
The legislative policies were amended in accordance with the ongoing pandemic and the lawmakers were given relaxation to attend the House sessions remotely with the permission of the presiding officer. The Joint Legislative Procedure Committee adopted all the COVID-19 requirements for ruling, voting, and other restrictions by mid-January to assist its members.
According to the new legislative policy, a member can attend and vote in any of the committee sessions by electronic means from any remote site. The excused member needs to tell the presiding officer beforehand. He can be someone who has contracted coronavirus or is in quarantine because of it. The daily journal of the committee would show that the member did participate in the session and voted remotely.
South Dakota has trailed behind other states when it comes to the spread of coronavirus. The House members do not practice wearing masks religiously, although it is expected from them to do it. After the eighth case got confirmed within a week of the 96th legislative session, many Democratic House members asked the House speaker to make wearing masks mandatory. These COVID-19 rules will only ensure the health safety of the other members.
The Department of Health has reported 1844 deaths and 110,315 positive cases of the coronavirus in South Dakota. The state has performed well economically compared to the other states. It is among the top states with regards to vaccination per capita and is doing well against the pandemic compared to the other states.
The names of the eight legislative members who have tested positive are not disclosed to the media. The anonymity remains as almost 20 members joined the session from remote locations. Members who are COVID-19 positive, or are waiting for their test results, are in a self-quarantine, are exempted from the sessions to be present physically in the House.