Three weeks remain in the Main Run of the 2013 Legislative Session. Appropriations committee members continue to work on the state budget for FY14, which begins July 1 this year and continues through June 30, 2014. A key component of the budget picture – whether there will be federal sequestration and how that will affect South Dakota – remains in limbo.
Medicaid. Based on comments from constituents and interest groups, legislative leaders scheduled a special joint Health and Human Services committee hearing to discuss Medicaid Expansion. This is a complicated issue with a lot of moving parts, and the more information legislators have, the better.
HB1135. I offered an amendment to HB1135, the bill giving landowners the ability to regulate access to flooded private property. In response to what many felt was a great deal of misinformation and misdirection by wildlife groups on the issue, the amendment was designed to clarify that this deals only with recreational access to private property, it does not seek to disrupt 130 years of water law. The amendment also sought to further clarify that this deals only with nonmeandered bodies of water. The bill passed the House 37-32 and has been referred to Senate State Affairs.
Gun Bills. Two unsuccessful attempts were made to “smoke out” gun bills that had died in committee. A “smoke out” is a legislative maneuver by which one-third of the members elect can direct a committee to send a bill to the floor. One of the bills was referred to by supporters as the “Constitutional Carry” bill, because it basically did away with the concealed carry permit in South Dakota. It had only one proponent in committee, and was opposed by law enforcement. The other bill would have provided that any federal law imposing limitations on firearms or limiting the size of firearm magazines was unenforceable in South Dakota. It died in committee on a 12-1 vote. Neither smoke out attempt was successful.
HB1142. Issues which are proving to be contentious include legislation to require insurance companies to allow a patient to go to any medical provider who is willing to meet the terms and conditions established by the health insurer. Patient advocates believe that HB1142 will improve patient choice; insurance companies contend it will lead to increased medical costs.
HB1237. Another controversial bill is HB 1237, which would specify that the 72-hour waiting period before an abortion does not include weekends or holidays. Proponents say this is needed because pregnancy counseling centers are not open on weekends or holidays; opponents say this adds an extra burden to women seeking an abortion. It passed House Judiciary Committee on a 9-2 vote.
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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