Week seven saw one of the shortest “crossover” days in anyone’s memory with both the House and Senate finishing their calendars by 5:00 p.m. “Crossover” day is the date by which all bills have to “cross over” from the house of origin to the other chamber. The Main Run ends next Friday, March 14, followed by a two-week break before Veto Day on March 31.
Of the 458 bills and joint resolutions introduced this year, 221 were still alive at the end of last week, requiring further action. The governor has signed 52 bills, many of them cleanup bills which get rid of obsolete statutes.
One of the bills passed last week is an act to require insurance coverage for treating certain autism spectrum disorders. Although the insurance companies were opposed to an additional mandate, parents of autistic children spoke strongly in support of the bill. HB 1257 has been referred to Senate Commerce and Energy Committee.
The Senate Ag and Natural Resources committee voted to table HB 1097, which would have clarified the definition of agricultural land for taxation purposes. The current definition has been amended multiple times since first being enacted in 1979. Although there was widespread agreement that the definition needs to be improved, the general consensus is that the issue should be studied in depth by the Ag Land Tax Assessment Oversight Committee and a comprehensive bill brought in next year.
One bill that has been generating a great deal of interest is SB 114, to establish a wine direct shipper license. This would allow both in-state and out-of-state wineries to become licensed to ship wine in South Dakota. We are one of nine states that do not allow direct shipments of wine. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 23-11 and has been referred to House Commerce and Energy Committee.
Revenue projections will be presented to the Legislature on Monday, March 10. This will form the framework for adopting the state’s FY2015 budget. That will be the major focus the final week of Session. At the same time, there are ongoing discussions about potential Medicaid expansion as well as increased funding for K-12 education.