SD Senate passes SB 71 to make Juneteeth Day a working holiday

PIERRE, S.D.(Argus Leader)- A bill that would recognize Juneteenth as a working holiday in South Dakota has passed the Senate.

Senate Bill 71, which passed 26-8 on Monday afternoon, will now go to the House. It will mark June 19, when in 1865, slaves in Texas were informed that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished — the last Confederate state in which the proclamation was announced.

Sen. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, the bill’s primary sponsor, said while there are a “limited number” of Black people in South Dakota, recognizing the holiday is important. He noted only two other states do not formally acknowledge the day.

Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, was one of the people voting against the bill, saying that he recognized the significance of the holiday, but that there were other events in South Dakota’s history that should be acknowledged first.

The Senate’s three Democrats also opposed the bill, with Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, pointing toward his own Senate Bill 89, which would designate Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

That bill is set for a hearing on Friday.