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BHSU political science students on front lines during recent state Legislative session

 

Black Hills State University student Auburn Ritterbush looks out from the Capitol dome in Pierre. Ritterbush was one of two BHSU students who interned during the recent 88th Legislative session.

 
Interns for the recent 88th Legislative session are pictured with South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Auburn Ritterbush knows firsthand the amount of work that goes into a legislative session. The Black Hills State University political science major spent her spring semester interning for South Dakota Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg, during the recent 88th Legislative session.  

Interns provide the legislators with the assistance they need to survive the rigors of a hectic legislative session.  Ritterbush and Ben Nelson, a BHSU political science major from Deadwood, were the two BHSU student interns during the recent Legislative session.

 “There are so many things that go on in the legislative session that people don’t even know about,” Ritterbush said. “As slow as we think the process is it really goes quick and you wish you had more time to review and look at the bills.”

While in Pierre, interns observe the lawmaking process in action, and learn about the many issues confronting the state. In addition to learning about government and the legislative process, the students attend weekly conferences hosted by the Legislative Research Council. Invited guests such as key members of the Legislature, lobbyists, reporters, and government officials offer insight on a variety of topics.

As an intern, Ritterbush worked in the House’s leadership office where her responsibilities included making sure Cronin, the House assistant majority leader, had everything he needed for the committees and caucuses, and kept him updated on the status of specific bills.  She also compiled notes and helped write weekly updates for the 15 newspapers in Cronin’s district.  

Ritterbush said enjoyed seeing the legislative process in action. 

“This is something you definitely cannot learn in the classroom,” Ritterbush said. “I think we sometimes forget how many people are involved in the system and all the rules. It was really neat to see all that.”

She was involved with a bill allowing the continued sale of 85-octane gasoline in western South Dakota. The House Commerce Committee unanimously approved the bill after reaching a consensus on how the fuel would be labeled at the pumps.

“It was really neat to see two opposite spectrums come together and compromise,” Ritterbush said of watching the debate over the commerce bill.

She also witnessed debate on several other important bills including the budget as well as a bill that would provide prenatal care for pregnant women who are in the country illegally.

“It was really interesting to watch the discussion on allowing prenatal care for illegal immigrants,” she said noting that several representatives, though against illegal immigration, believed providing prenatal care would reduce future medical costs incurred by those children.

 

Black Hills State University student Auburn Ritterbush spent the beginning of her spring semester interning for Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg, during the recent South Dakota 88th Legislative session.

She said loved her experience as a legislative intern and gained a deeper understanding for the legislative process from everyone involved including Cronin, Jim Fry in the Legislative Research Council and Rep. Fred Romkema, R-Spearfish.

Ritterbush is interested in expanding her experience in politics and has already applied for positions with South Dakota’s congressional leaders in Washington, D.C.

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