Impact at the Capitol

April 22, 2020

Written By: Anna Hayes

Posted In: Advocacy, Elevate Magazine

Encouraging economic development and supporting policies that promote a healthy business environment is a core value of Elevate Rapid City’s mission. Elevate understands the impact that public policy can have on the quality of a community, and believe it is imperative to influence good policy and stop a policy that hinders the advancement of Rapid City business owners.

Part of our commitment to investors is offering the benefit of a full-time lobbyist advocating on investors’ behalf during the legislative session. The objective is twofold: to support legislation that boosts the success of all businesses, and to oppose bills that would have adverse impacts on our investors.

As the 95th Legislative Session concludes, we are steadfast in our goal to educate our investors on the work done at the Capitol and lay the foundation to continue business advocacy efforts year-round.

Not only do we strive to provide access to analysis and information on political topics, but we also seek to educate legislators on issues that impact our business community – offering our perspective on a well-intentioned bill that encroaches on business operations, for example.

As a measure to hold our organization accountable to the positions we assert on policy issues, we are transparent in our decision-making process. What follows is a brief explanation of our policy decision-making protocol and the results of that process as it pans out in the legislature.

Components of Elevate's Policy Decisions


Elevate ensures that all decisionmaking begins with a council of expert policy analysts that directly represent our business community. Our Public Policy Committee (PPC) is a trusted group of individuals who engage and evaluate policy discussions that result in Elevate’s formal positions. The PPC exists to offer a panel of balanced opinions that represent an array of industries and business interests. PPC is the central core of our research on key topics, and our first level of issue development as our investors bring ideas and concerns with critical potential impact.

Policy Development

Relative to the legislative session, the PPC works months prior to opening day to develop Elevate’s policy agenda. You can find this agenda in our Public Policy Guide found on the website. This Guide is the cornerstone from which policy development advances, and is the check-and-balance for the issues Elevate pursues. The Public Policy Director and PPC communicate throughout the weeks of session to craft important policy decisions.


Elevate strives to be communicative and transparent in all parts of the process. One of the countless benefits of having a full-time advocate at the Capitol is the ability to communicate directly with the legislators. Not only does the advocate pursue them to get insight and find answers, but the Public Policy Director is also a resource for legislators for discussing business-related issues and concerns.

South Dakota's 95th Legislative Session: By The Numbers

584 Pieces of Legislation Were Considered This Year.

Although this number may be daunting relative to the mere 105 legislators who craft these proposals, it is important to note that there are several parts of the process at which these many bills or resolutions are halted. They could pass both chambers of the legislature, they could be “killed” in committee by being tabled or “sent to the 41st Day”, or they could even be pulled by the original prime sponsor.

You can see the breakdown in the tables below of the many variations in legislation that is considered each year:

House Legislation

House Bills (HB) 294
House Commemoration (HC) 33
House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 24
House Joint Resolution (HJR) 3
House Resolution (HR) 2
Total 356

Senate Legislation

Senate Bills (SB) 186
Senate Commemoration (SC) 32
Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 5
Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 3
Senate Resolution (SR) 2
Total 228

It is critical to understand that mass amounts of legislation must be reviewed throughout the session, but more importantly, to recognize that some bills should be stopped throughout the process for the benefit of our business community.

A lobbyist focused on business advocacy spends their time researching, communicating, and monitoring hundreds of bills that could have an immense impact on Rapid City businesses. It is the role of the lobbyist to monitor this activity and decide when to bring the PPC in to make the tough decisions – whether to oppose, support, or stay neutral on a bill. A formal position taken by the PPC reflects a high priority for Elevate Rapid City.

Elevate's 202 Pro Business Legislative Scorecard

Legislative Scorecard

Amongst the 584 pieces of proposed legislation, there were nine (9) bills that qualified as crucial policy measures that warranted Elevate’s input. The 2020 Pro-Business Legislative Scorecard found on page 19 reflects the voting record of the fifteen Rapid City Area legislators on these issues. Elevate commits to promoting pro-business policy initiatives and believe it imperative to educate our business and economic community on key issues that were deliberated and how local legislators voted to support or oppose these proposals.

The scorecard is recorded on a simple calculation of the number of bills voted in accordance to Elevate’s policy position versus the total amount of bills on which Elevate took a formal policy position – 9. Legislators were not penalized for any votes for which they were excused. This voting record is not indicative of everything that occurred during the legislative session – Elevate monitored hundreds of bills, but what is highlighted is considered a high priority.

The scorecard is not intended to be a comprehensive evaluation of any lawmaker, but rather a factual presentation of strict pro-business policy priorities in the Rapid City community. Review below a brief analysis of each of Elevate Rapid City’s positions. Please contact Elevate if any additional information is needed.

Senate Bill 70: Authorize the use of Spanish in obtaining certain driver licenses and permits.

Senate Bill 72: Establish the Dakota's promise scholarship program, to establish the Dakota's promise fund, to make an appropriation, and to declare an emergency.

Senate Bill 157: Revise certain provisions regarding the county zoning and appeals process.

Senate Joint Resolution 501: Proposing and submitting to the voters an amendment to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, providing for wagering on sporting events and to revise provisions regarding certain municipal proceeds of gaming revenues.

House Bill 1057: Prohibit certain acts against children and provide a penalty therefor. 
Elevate opposed HB 1057. A “NAY” vote was in accord with Elevate’s position. We are concerned with policy that affects the recruitment of quality businesses to make Rapid City their home. South Dakota should maintain an economic environment where businesses are welcome to operate without concern of overreaching legislation that could conflict with internal policies.

House Bill 1083: Rename the postsecondary technical institutes as technical colleges.
Elevate supported HB 1083. A “YEA” vote was in accord with Elevate’s position. We support the vital work done by technical schools in South Dakota and support necessary changes to bolster public perception to encourage increased enrollment – adding more skilled individuals to the growing needs of our workforce.

House Bill 1100: Make an appropriation to begin the research and development of a new bioprocessing facility and to declare an emergency.

House Bill 1179: Authorize series limited liability companies.

House Concurrent Resolution 6017: To encourage the creation of an interim legislative study to address infrastructure and funding support related to the expansion of Ellsworth Air Force Base.

View Scorecard

Tracking The 2020 Election Cycle

Elevate is committed to providing access to information our business community can use when making important votes. We take public policy seriously, and we encourage our business leaders to consider which issues are important to them.

We created this legislative pro-business scorecard as a tool for our investors to reference when considering their votes. Choosing a candidate is a comprehensive process and requires consideration of individual priorities; this scorecard offers support for the business community to make these decisions.

Dates to Know

April 17: Absentee Voting Begins

May 18: Voter Registration Deadline

June 2: Primary Election

If you are unable to attend your polling place in person on Election Day, you may be eligible to vote by absentee ballot starting April 17. This is also a great reminder to get engaged with the current political landscape and check who in your district may be up for a primary election. We encourage using this date as an opportunity to jumpstart your efforts to be an educated voter come June 2.