Capitol

Shown is the South Dakota State Capitol in downtown Pierre. Next week, members of the Legislature are expected to accept public comments regarding spending plans for the about $1.25 billion worth of federal funds sent to the state to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Masks, disinfectant and hand sanitizer for school systems?

Infrastructure improvements or HVAC system upgrades for public buildings?

Hospital beds, ventilators or medications?

These items and others may be on the menu for members of the South Dakota Legislature when determining how to spend the remaining portions of the $1.25 billion worth of federal funds the state received as part of the $2.2 trillion (that’s $2,200,000,000,000) CARES Act earlier this year.

Last week, Gov. Kristi Noem announced plans to send $500 per student to each school in the state, which totals about $75 million out of the $1.25 billion.

As of Monday, South Dakota averaged 1,713 COVID-19 infections for every 100,000 residents — a ratio that positions the state slightly better than the national average of 1,910 cases for every 100,000 people.

However, with COVID infections mounting and Hughes County in the South Dakota Department of Health’s “Substantial” community spread category, Pierre School District Superintendent Kelly Glodt continues to ask members of the community to do their part to deter the coronavirus.

“I want to thank all parents and community members for taking the personal responsibility to keep the number of positive cases much lower than other larger communities in our state and encourage you to be even more vigilant in the future,” Glodt said on Friday.

As local officials work to mitigate COVID-19 spread as much as possible, members of the South Dakota Legislature are expected to take public comments at the Capitol on how residents believe the federal money should be used. The meeting schedule is as follows:

Joint Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, 9 a.m, Monday, Sept. 14, Room 414;

Joint Education Committee, 9 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, Room 414;

Joint Health and Human Services Committee, 8 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22, Room 414; and

Members of the public wishing to testify are encouraged to participate remotely; in-person testifiers are encouraged to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

Testifiers can register by email, using the address indicated on each committee’s webpage. Written testimony will also be accepted by email through the committee’s webpage and must be received at least 48 hours prior to the meeting to be considered at the meeting. When registering to testify or submitting written testimony, the individual should include his or her full name, whom they are representing (self, organization, etc.), city of residence, and brief comments.

“Each interim committee has the same charge: To receive testimony from individuals, businesses, and other organizations relating to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health and financial welfare,” South Dakota Legislative Research Council Director Reed Holwegner told the Capital Journal. “Conferees are invited to provide suggestions as to the use of federal COVID funds. Each joint committee will report its findings, conclusions, and recommendations to the Joint Committee on Appropriations.

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