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Lawmaker tests positive as legislative session begins

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SDPB
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SDPB

At least one state lawmaker in Pierre has already tested positive for COVID-19.

Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba, of Sioux Falls, tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday morning. He was vaccinated and recently received his booster shot in December.

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LRC
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SD
Reynold Nesiba

Nesiba is urging chamber leaders to set COVID protocols.

“The Legislature should be proactive instead of reactive,” Nesiba says. “That includes mask use, vaccinations and boosters to mitigate spread. We want to continue to do the people’s work and we need to be healthy to do that.

"The legislative procedure committee meets tomorrow. I usually serve on that—hopefully they’ll let me do so remotely—and we can take action tomorrow to create mitigation efforts by the House and Senate,” Nesiba adds.

Legislative session kicked off Tuesday, but a committee Nesiba sits on met last week.

The Appropriations Committee, which sets the state budget every year, met early to start holding department hearings. Appropriators sit in a horseshoe configuration and meet for hours poring over the state’s finances. Nesiba says he’s not sure where he caught the virus. Dozens of people pass through the committee room.

COVID cases in the state have surged since the Omicron variant was first detected last year.

Lawmakers will receive a handful of rapid tests each week to test for the virus.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.