Barthel, Healy prepare for upcoming legislative session

Published: Jan. 3, 2019 at 4:10 PM CST
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Thirty Sioux Falls-area state lawmakers attended the Sioux Falls Chamber's annual Good Morning Sioux Falls legislative breakfast Thursday morning.

KSFY News was able to speak with two of those lawmakers. One of them an experienced public servant while the other is newly elected to her post.

Both gave insight as to the upcoming legislative session, which begins in five days.

There will be no shortage of possible issues facing lawmakers this coming legislative session.

One of the most glaring right issues now has to do with the meth and opioid crisis and what the legislature should do in response.

When it comes to any possible changes to state drug laws, former Sioux Falls police chief and current Sioux Falls Republican Rep. Doug Barthel said he would be leery to make any type of change to the state's drug ingestion laws.

"I know we're the only state in the country that makes ingestion a felony, but I do think there should be consequences just because of the fact you've taken the drug and now have it in your system you should be able to get off scott-free. I don't think that's right."

But Barthel is in favor of the state taking action to make drug aversion and drug treatment programs more available and accessible than he feels they are right now.

"That requires some alternative programs," he said. "There needs to be that community support and supervision."

Also from Sioux Falls, incoming Democratic Rep. Erin Healy. She will come into a statehouse where Republicans dramatically outnumber Democrats, but she said it is not something she is overwhelmed by and that it will not affect her ability to be effective.

"I think being a Democrat in a Republican state and a Republican district is an uphill battle, but I got elected by the people by listening to them," she said.

Healy said she wants her fellow lawmakers to investigate an issue she said not many in South Dakota are aware of -- the number of new moms who are dying during or following child birth.

"Our maternal mortality rate is 28 deaths per 100,000, and that's incredibly high for both our state and our nation," she said.

Lawmakers will take their oaths of office this coming Saturday at the state capitol in Pierre, including Gov.-elect Kristi Noem.

Stay tuned both on air and online this Saturday on KSFY for coverage.