We will pass the halfway mark of the 2014 Legislative Session this coming week, with only a fraction of our work finished. A total of 457 bills and joint resolutions were introduced. Ten of those have passed both houses and are awaiting the governor’s signature. Six have been withdrawn at the request of the prime sponsor.
Medicaid expansion – or not – continues to be one of the major discussion topics. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, with or without the expansion, South Dakota will spend $35 million more through 2022 on Medicaid to cover additional enrollment of currently eligible children and parents. South Dakota’s Medicaid program now covers about 116,000 children, adults, and disabled people. If the state would fully expand Medicaid under federal limits to 138% of the poverty level, it would add an estimated 49,000 people, mostly adults without children.
There are three bills dealing with texting while driving. SB13 makes it a serious traffic violation to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicles. SB179 prohibits texting while driving, and allows conflicting local ordinances. Both of these are in Senate Transportation committee. HB1177 started out as a bill to restrict local governments from creating a checkerboard of different regulations dealing with distracted or inattentive driving. It was significantly amended in House Judiciary committee to implement a statewide texting ban as a secondary offense.
The House dealt with two bills pertaining strictly with Deadwood. HJR1001 places a measure on the 2014 ballot, asking the voters if the Constitution should be amended to allow roulette, keno, and craps in the City of Deadwood. It passed the House 37-30 and has been referred to Senate State Affairs. HB1123 would allow alcoholic beverages to be sold, served, and consumed 24 hours a day in certain gaming establishments. It passed the House 36-33 and has been referred to Senate State Affairs committee. The Senate Tax committee gave its approval to SB 98 which would allow Deadwood to charge a higher occupational tax, up to $3 per occupied room per night.
The House soundly defeated HB1093, which would have prohibited public schools from starting the school term before the last Monday in August. The measure failed on a vote of 29-40. Proponents argued that a later starting date would give families more time for a late-summer vacation, and it would benefit the tourism industry if older students were able to work later into August. Opponents argued that the decision should be left with locally-elected school boards.
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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