SDN Blog

Guest blog: How Crossover Day keeps legislators on track

Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014

Blog written by Super

This week was one of the more hectic times for South Dakota legislators as they worked toward one of the big deadlines of the legislative calendar: Crossover Day.

Crossover Day is the day on the legislative calendar when all House bills must have received a hearing and some type of final action by the House (either the bill was passed by a committee and sent to the House floor for final action, or it was killed in committee or on the floor -- the same goes for Senate bills).

Crossover Day is important because it keeps legislators on track, which is especially important with South Dakota’s short legislative calendar.

South Dakota has one of the shortest annual legislative calendars in the nation. Several years ago, voters changed the state constitution to allow the Legislature to meet for up to 40 legislative days each year. Prior to that, it met for 35 days in even numbered years, and 40 days in odd numbered years.

Since the state Constitution was changed, legislators have typically gone to a 38-day calendar which allows them to save two days in case they're needed later in the year to deal with an unforeseen set of events.

How they use those days is totally up to the lawmakers. Only the start date is prescribed by the Constitution which says the state legislature must convene on the second Tuesday in January. After that, the rest of the calendar is up to the legislative leaders from both parties.

The other major change from the past several years is the move to four-day weeks. Prior to that, lawmakers would come to Pierre on Sunday nights and not return home until late Friday. Then many would have some type of crackerbarrel or constituent meeting on Saturday, which did not allow much time for their real-world jobs or their families.  So the move to the four-day week has been generally viewed as positive one by most legislators and lobbyists.

As is the case with many things in South Dakota, we tend to make good use of our time and good use of our resources, and the Legislature is no exception.

Greg Dean is the Director of Industry Relations for the South Dakota Telecommunications Association.