Sen. Olson’s Legislative Update

Sen. Olson’s Legislative Update

By Sen. Russell Olson, Dist. 8, Senate Majority Leader
I would like to start off by thanking you once again for allowing me to be your voice in the South Dakota Senate. This marks the beginning of my seventh year in the Legislature and I hope to continue to make my constituents in District 8 proud to have me as your senator. I am also humbled to have again been selected by my colleagues to serve as the Senate Majority Leader. With this position comes a heavy responsibility to represent the caucus position as we negotiate with the administration and minority party on what we feel is best for South Dakota. I have always balanced that responsibility with my commitment to District 8 and believe my position is an advantage to our district. I will always work to make certain the needs and concerns of our district come first.
The first week in the legislature was devoted to the traditional events of swearing-in legislators and hearing from Governor Daugaard and Supreme Court Chief Justice Gilbertson as they delivered the State of the State Address and State of the Judiciary Address, respectively. Our governor gave a straight-forward address. His main focus was good stewardship; he emphasized being good stewards of the land and of our taxpayer dollars. He highlighted the many states across our great nation that were faced with similar budget dilemmas we faced two years ago and how the hole has gotten deeper for the vast majority of states that chose the easy route instead of making the tough decisions to do what was right.
The State of the Judiciary address focused on the recent criminal justice initiative. This past summer, I joined fellow legislative leaders, Governor Daugaard and Chief Justice Gilbertson to announce the formation of the Criminal Justice Take Force. For the past nine months, we have met to discuss public safety reforms. This is an excellent example of bi-partisan, multi-branched stakeholders who worked with stakeholders across South Dakota to form the Public Safety Improvement Act.
I am proud to be the prime sponsor of the Public Safety Improvement Act. I look forward to providing more details as it makes its way through the committee process. In its current form, it seeks to expand supervision and reduce the length of prison sentences. If passed, non-violent offenders would be offered alternatives to lengthy jail stays by committing to strict conditions of release. This effort will save taxpayers an estimated $225 million over the next decade by averting the construction of new penitentiaries.
I hope to hear from you on issues that are important to you.  I can be reached at sen.russellolson@state.sd.us or at my office in Pierre at 605-773-3828.

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