Governor Daugaard signed the first bill of 2013 on Thursday when he gave final approval to HB1066, which makes permanent the half-cent tourism promotion tax. Also on Thursday, the House passed SB70, the Public Safety Improvement Act. This bill is designed to hold violent offenders accountable with swift and sure sanctions, yet reduce overall prison costs by expanding the use of drug and alcohol courts. This bill passed the Senate 31-2 and the House 63-7.
The Senate Ag Committee gave unanimous approval to a bill designed to increase fertilizer-related research at SDSU. SB115 would increase the commercial fertilizer inspection fee paid by distributors, from 15 cents per ton to 30 cents per ton. The extra money would be set aside to help fund research projects at SDSU. Cost to farmers is estimated to be two to four cents per acre. The bill has broad support from agricultural groups as a necessary investment to help provide updated information. The Governor’s Office opposed the bill, calling it a tax increase.
Two bills, in particular, are generating a great deal of e-mail for legislators.
HB 1126 would repeal the massage therapy licensing requirements and the board which oversees the program. The Board of Massage Therapy and accompanying statutes were instituted by the 2005 Legislature, and amended in 2007. This bill would repeal all those statutes. Some massage therapists in the state are pushing for a repeal of the licensing statutes; others are opposed to the measure. The bill passed out of House Commerce committee on a vote of 11-2. Floor action has been deferred while amendments are being developed by the Daugaard Administration.
HB 1156 would put the Game, Fish & Parks Commission in charge of setting waterfowl licenses, rather than the Legislature. Currently, the GF&P Commission sets all other hunting and fishing licenses, with the exception of waterfowl. Those supporting the measure say that the GF&P Commission – which meets frequently throughout the year and which has a staff of wildlife biologists on hand – is better suited than the Legislature for setting license numbers and seasons. Opponents of the measure believe that allowing the Commission to set licenses and seasons would mean the loss of waterfowl hunting for in-state hunters, and would lead to more commercialization for out-of-state hunters. This bill passed the House Ag Committee on a vote of 9-3.
Another hunting measure which passed the Ag Committee, and which was opposed by only the SD Wildlife Federation, is a bill to increase the license surcharge by one dollar to help bolster the animal damage control fund. This bill, HB1123, is supported by agricultural groups and the Department of Game, Fish & Parks. It passed out of committee 12-0.
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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