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South Dakota legislature set to have record number of female lawmakers

The thirty women will break an all time record for the body.
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 7:07 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota state legislature is set to make history next month.

Thirty lawmakers across both chambers will be women, a record number for the legislature, and a notable increase of four from the last legislature.

Many of them were elected for the first time this past November, including State Senator Erin Tobin (R-Winner).

“I don’t necessarily think the voters went out and wanted to vote for a female,” Tobin said. “They went out and wanted to vote for the best candidate, and that is exciting to me.”

Nine state senators will be women, twenty-one will be women in the State House.

While they bring a diverse background of experiences, many have full-time jobs in healthcare.

“I just feel honored to be a part of making some history,” says State Representative Sydney Davis (R-Burbank). “Especially for women in politics, women in our state.”

Like the full state legislature, a majority of the women are Republicans. However, women from both sides of the aisle believe they will find plenty of room for agreement. State Representative Jennifer Keintz (D-Eden) was the lone pick up for State Democrats in the November elections. She says she has already spoken to lawmakers across the aisle and found areas where she thinks viewpoints are more mutual.

“Agriculture is going to be a big one, that is big in my district and throughout the state, (and) there will be some issues there. Small businesses... Rapid City, Sioux Falls, or my small town. They are the backbone of our state.”

(Italics indicates a newly elected member)

In the State House, the female legislators are State Representative Sydney Davis, State Representative Becky Drury (R-Rapid City), State Representative Linda Duba (D-Sioux Falls), State Representative Mary Fitzgerald (R-Saint Onge), State Representative Lana Greenfield (R-Doland), State Representative Erin Healy (D-Sioux Falls), State Representative Taffy Howard (R-Rapid City), State Representative Jennifer Keintz, State Representative Trish Ladner (R-Hot Springs), State Representative Liz May (R-Kyle), State Representative Rhonda Milstead (R-Hartford), State Representative Tina Mulally (R-Rapid City), State Representative Jess Olsen (R-Rapid City), State Representative Sue Peterson (R-Sioux Falls), State Representative Peri Pourier (D-Pine Ridge), State Representative Taylor Rehfeldt (R-Sioux Falls), State Representative Rebecca Reimer (R-Chamberlain), State Representative Bethany Soye (R-Sioux Falls), State Representative Tamara St. John (R-Sisseton), State Representative Marli Wiese (R-Madison), and State Representative Nancy York (R-Watertown).

In the State Senate, the female legislators are State Senator Jessica Castleberry (R-Rapid City), State Senator Helene Duhamel (R-Rapid City), State Senator Mary Duvall (R-Pierre), State Senator Red Dawn Foster (D-Pine Ridge), State Senator Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City), State Senator Jean Hunhoff (R-Yankton), State Senator Maggie Sutton (R-Sioux Falls), State Senator Marsha Symens (R-Dell Rapids), and State Senator Erin Tobin.

Lawmakers will return to Pierre for the start of the legislative session on January 12th, also the day of the annual State of the State address.

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