South Dakota LEND Participates in Legislative Session

May 7, 2020

On February 9th and 10th twelve SD LEND Trainees traveled to South Dakota's state capitol Pierre to observe policy in action. Dr. Marni Johnson Martin, SD LEND Training Director, states, "I am thrilled we are able to offer this opportunity to our LEND trainees as it gives them real-world experience with the legislative process. I feel they came away from the experience much more vested in the process and understand how truly important their voices are. I hope someday I will have the honor and privilege of voting for one of our trainees when they run for office."

Trainees met with representatives Erin Healy (D) and Jean M. Hunhoff (R) in one-on-one sessions to learn about the process of becoming a state legislator, the day-to-day schedule during session, and their views on current topics. Shea Bonine, a genetic counselor trainee stated, "I was impressed by how passionate everyone in Pierre was about the greater good for South Dakota. We met two different representatives, Healy (D) and Hunhoff (R), that have very different political views, yet both were able to acknowledge both sides of the picture. I'm glad that representatives here are able to separate their differences for a common goal."

Trainees were able to tour the Supreme Court and meet with Justice Janine M. Kern who discussed the initiatives the Supreme Court has pursued this past year as well as her journey to becoming a Supreme Court Justice. Corrine Reeves, an audiology trainee, reflects, "She has been a proponent of educating individuals about fetal alcohol syndrome. She was also one of the first women to be a Justice and is such a great role model."

Students attended committee hearings on Senate and House bills, met with the Cabinet Secretary of Health, the Legislative Research Council, and Lobbyists. Brooke Ireland, a physical therapy trainee, learned, "the importance of using my voice to inform legislators on aspects of the bills they are voting on to be sure they make informed decisions. I am now empowered to become more involved in the legislative process in order for my voice be heard."

Dr. Greg Boris, SD LEND Leadership and Policy Specialist, reflects on the importance of this learning experience for trainees. "The trainees learn various perspectives on state government. Trainees gain knowledge, experience, and are to establish relationships with those involved in government. It is great for them to see another way they can make a difference in their community and profession."