District 17 up for redistricting in legislation

Dawn Rye | Writer

Republican Richard Vasgaard and Sydney Davis represent South Dakota’s 17 state house district. State representatives represent 21,567 residents after the 2000 Census. However, in 2021 the legislature is discussing redistricting in South Dakota. 

What does that mean for residents? South Dakota is home to a single at-large congressional district. A simple majority vote in each chamber is required to pass a redistricting plan, which is subject to veto by the governor.

The South Dakota Constitution mandates that state legislative districts be contiguous and compact. State statutes “ask that districts protect communities of interest and respect geographical and political boundaries.” Because these latter requirements are statutory, they can be modified by the state legislature at its discretion.

Vasgaard said based on the South Dakota state statute; they are required to have 35 districts.  District 17 is short 1,700 to 2,000 residents to make the redistricting requirements. He explained the Census numbers didn’t come out until September, making it a scramble to hold public meetings and receive input from residents within the district. The redistricting would be complete by Monday, Nov. 8, at the special session of the legislature. One proposal Vasgaard is against is legislature wants to divide Turner County into three districts. The southern part would be part of Yankton, the eastern region would be connected to Lincoln County, and the western part would be with Hutchison County. 

He spoke with some residents and Brown County has been divided into three districts since 2011. The commissioners put a resolution forward because they have three senators and six legislature representatives to communicate with when there is a state issue. Vasgaard proposed to the Turner County commissioners to represent the county at the public hearing in Sioux Falls on Friday, Oct. 15.

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