More than 400 bills have been introduced by the end of the third week of the legislative session, and committee action is starting to ramp up. Some of the issues to generate the most discussion in the past week include guns, open government, property rights, and ongoing conversations about Medicaid.
Guns. HB1010 would have eliminated the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. It was opposed by the Department of Public Safety, State’s Attorneys Association, Sheriff’s Association, and Police Chiefs Association, and was killed on a 7-6 vote. There may be an attempt to revive this bill.
HB1087 is the “School Sentinel” bill. It gives local school boards the option to establish a school sentinel program if they choose. The bill was amended in committee to require school boards with a sentinel program to get approval from the county sheriff, and also to require that any person acting as a school sentinel must successfully complete a training course set by the Law Enforcement Standards Commission. This bill, as amended, passed out of the Education committee on a 8-7 vote.
Open Government. HB 1109 would have allowed criminal booking photos and police logs to be classified as open records. For example, “mugshots.com” would have access to all photos whether the person was guilty or not. A person would have to spend $500 to get his or her photo removed. The House State Affairs killed the bill on a vote of 13-0.
HB1110, which passed the House 70-0, requires that any public entity that creates, maintains, or enters into a contract for an electronic public records database must consider the cost and affordability of public access. The public entity also needs to be able to explain to the public how to access the information.
Property Rights. HB1007 started out as a bill to limit conservation easements to 30 years. There was a great deal of testimony on both sides of the issue, with proponents testifying that “perpetual” easements are simply too long and that some sort of time frame needs to be established. The bill was amended to limit easements to 99 years, and then was killed on a 7-6 vote.
Medicaid. Legislators continue to ask questions and gather information on the question of whether to expand Medicaid eligibility. During the last Fiscal Year, there were 144,373 South Dakotans on Medicaid; 69% of those are children. Total Medicaid expenditures in FY12 were $799.6 million.
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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