Week two of the 88th Legislative Session was highlighted by an increase in the number of bills being introduced, initial approval of the Public Safety Improvement Act, and House approval of the bill to continue the half-cent tourism promotion tax.
HB1066 is the bill to continue the half-cent tourism promotion tax. Over three-fourths of the tax (76%) is paid by out-of-state visitors to the state. The money is used to help market South Dakota as a tourist destination, by partnering with local tourism groups through cooperative marketing programs. In addition, the money helps fund the SD Arts Council, the State Historical Society’s Archaeological Research Center, and a portion of the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
The bill passed the House Tax committee with a 14-1 vote, and passed the full House with a 64-4 vote. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
SB70, An Act to Improve Public Safety, had its first public hearing on Friday in the Senate State Affairs Committee. The bill has widespread support among the Judicial and Executive branches, as well as pro-family groups, counties and cities, mental health professionals, and local law enforcement. While the Attorney General, State Bar, and Trial Lawyers support the bill, the state Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union of SD oppose the bill.
After a lengthy hearing, the bill was amended slightly and passed from committee on a 8-0 vote. It will be considered by the full Senate next Wednesday.
Nearly 230 bills have been introduced as of Friday. There are still five more days available for legislators to introduce their proposals. One bill which will undoubtedly generate a great deal of discussion is HB1087, which would give local school boards the option to establish a “school sentinel program” to promote school safety. The school board would need to work with local law enforcement before allowing armed employees, hired security personnel, or volunteers to serve as sentinels.
The Appropriations Committee is systematically going through the proposed budget from each state agency. In addition, they will start hearing requests for special appropriations. Overshadowing the entire budget process is uncertainty over the federal sequester cuts. These potential cuts have been deferred until March 1. The State Legislature is scheduled to end its Main Run on March 8.
Complete committee information, as well as contact information for the three District 24 legislators may be found on the Legislative Research Council website at: http://legis.state.sd.us
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