75th Midwestern Legislative Conference held at The Monument
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City is hosting the 75th annual Midwestern Legislative Conference at the Monument. It is a chance for legislators from 11 midwestern states and four Canadian provinces to come together and exchange ideas.
Legislators and representatives from 11 states, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario are in town for the 75th MLC conference. The purpose? To foster cooperation among the region’s policymakers by exchanging information and ideas, sharing knowledge, and through collaborative efforts. For states with similar struggles, that also meant a chance to hear a different perspective.
“We have an opportunity to exchange ideas with our colleagues,” said SD Senate Majority Leader and president of the MLC council, Gary Cammack. “But the problem is, in some cases it gets to be an echo chamber, and when you are working with some legislators that are out of the area, then they’ve possibly already solved the problem that you’re seeking a solution to.”
“So, it’s interesting for us to hear, what works, what isn’t, what they’ve done, what we’re thinking about doing,” said Senator Helene Duhamel. “I think this is a great opportunity to really mingle and get to know other legislators, and have somebody to contact if we have questions.”
Senator Helene Duhamel, who is also an employee of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, was part of a criminal justice panel.
“I had lunch with some folks from North Dakota,” said Duhamel. “And I was shocked by how much we have in common. Many of the same issues we’re trying to navigate right now with marijuana and education. It just was a great opportunity to talk with people who are kinda going through the same thing, slightly different circumstances.”
Pennington County and Rapid City have been progressive compared to state law enforcement agencies, and the hope is to share that with fellow legislators.
“Frankly, if we solve the problems in Pennington County, the vast majority of jails are our size or smaller,” said Duhamel. “And we’re the smallest safety and justice challenge site with the McArthur foundation. So, what happens here could make a difference for generations to come across the nation.”
The conference will continue through Wednesday, July 14.