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Assistant Majority Leader Michael Diedrich taking a leave from Pierre to deal with health issue

(South Dakota Broadcasters Association) A member of leadership in the South Dakota State Senate is temporarily taking leave from the legislative session following a health emergency suffered during the first week.

Sen. Michael Diedrich, the Assistant Majority Leader, has been unable to attend session since the week it kicked off, due to a blood clot that required emergency surgery. Diedrich, who is recovering from colon cancer, had the clot discovered near his chemotherapy port that week. It was successfully removed during an operation, and the Senator is recovering at home.

Following the advice of his doctors, Diedrich has not worked while he recuperates, and will miss at least the remainder of this week.

“Sen. Diedrich will return to the Legislature in the very near future,” Sen. Helene Duhamel said, speaking on his behalf while he recovers. “He has been staying current with the Legislature through his legislative colleagues, live broadcasts, and the LRC website.”

The senator’s extended leave of absence forced leadership to rework committee assignments, to allow bills to continue to move smoothly through the legislative process. Diedrich’s committee assignments were split up among his Republican colleagues.

The Rapid City area lawmaker’s absence has not gone without notice from his colleagues. During the daily prayer that precedes floor votes Friday, Diedrich received special mention. He also received special praise from his majority leader during a weekly legislative press conference last week.

“The Senate Republicans are praying for a speedy recovery for Assistant Leader Diedrich,” Majority Leader Casey Crabtree told South Dakota Broadcasters Association. “We certainly miss his leadership and knowledge on our team. In the meantime, I’m thankful that our colleagues have stepped up to help carry on his work.”

Diedrich has served in the Legislature in four separate decades. First elected to the Senate in 1987, he served there with just a two-year gap in service between 1991 and 1993, before leaving in 1995. He would return to Pierre in 2017, when appointed to the House by former Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Back home, Diedrich is the vice president of government affairs at Monument Health.

Diedrich’s absence for the time being leaves Black Hills region residents with one less lawmaker to represent them. One vacancy exists in both the House and the Senate from the area, and Rapid City Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller does not serve on any Senate committees.

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