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South Dakota State House, Senate settle on redistricting proposals

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 7:07 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - After months of back and forth, the South Dakota State House and Senate have their proposed state legislative maps.

“What I like about this map (Blackbird 2.0) is I think it is fair,” said State Sen. Mary Duvall (R-Pierre). Duvall is the Senate chair for the redistricting committee and carried the Blackbird 2.0 map through that committee. “From my perspective, it is something a South Dakotan can look at and say this makes sense. That is my goal, to have a map that is fair and makes sense for South Dakota.”

The Senate committee approved the “Blackbird 2.0″ map by a vote of 5-2, an improvement upon the first “Blackbird” map that was driven by input from legislators and the public.

The South Dakota Senate has come up with their final redistricting proposal for 2021, as...
The South Dakota Senate has come up with their final redistricting proposal for 2021, as proposed by State Sen. Mary Duvall (R-Pierre).(SD LRC)

The House’s proposed map, called “Grouse 2.0,” was drafted largely by State Rep. Drew Dennert (R-Aberdeen).

The South Dakota State House has drafted this "Grouse 2.0" map as one of their final proposals...
The South Dakota State House has drafted this "Grouse 2.0" map as one of their final proposals going into the final stages of the state legislative redistricting process. As drafted largely by State Rep. Drew Dennert (R-Aberdeen).(SD LRC)

While compromise appears closer than before in the process, the maps still have major discrepancies. Most notable among them is the ways the area around Sioux Falls and around Aberdeen were handled.

The State Senate’s map splits the greater Brown County and Aberdeen area into three districts, where the House splits that same area into two. Around northwestern Sioux Falls, lawmakers have taken two different approaches in the way they have drawn districts as well. This distinction is most notable in District 25 and District 9.

“We tried to keep the urban area as compact as possible so that some of the urban precincts in Sioux Falls (especially) wouldn’t just overshadow the agricultural part of the county,” Duvall said. “Because there is some farming that goes on in Minnehaha County, so we said look, let’s put the farming parts of the county with Moody County because it just makes sense.”

If lawmakers are unable to agree to one single map before December 1st, the work of drawing the maps will go to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Lawmakers from both chambers say that they aren’t wholesale opposed to that idea at this point.

“Just like anything in the legislative process, you have to work together, and you have to have communication,” said State Rep. Drew Dennert (R-Aberdeen). “I am kind of waiting for that communication to happen.”

Between now and the start of the November 8th special legislative session to attempt to finalize these changes, there are not any more scheduled public meetings between both the House and Senate committees on redistricting. Lawmakers would have the ability to make that special session run longer than one day if necessary.

To learn more about the redistricting process, look at map proposals and the rationale behind them, click here.

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