Committees began holding hearings on bills during the second week of Session. Most of these are bills suggested by various state agencies to clarify or clean up existing statutes, and are not typically major policy changes.
One non-agency bill that passed the House last week is HB1006, to allow bullheads to be used as bait. This bill was unopposed in Ag Committee and passed the House on a 67-0 vote.
After listening to concerns expressed by various County Treasurers, the House Transportation committee amended a bill dealing with mailing license plates and license decals. Current law specifies that counties may charge a $5 mailing fee for each set of license plates, or a $1 mailing fee, for decals mailed to a customer’s home. The Division of Motor Vehicles was proposing to mail the plates or decals at no extra charge for those who registered their vehicles through their on-line licensing system, with the cost of the postage coming out of the license plate special revenue fund. This fund comes from 2.5% of all license fees collected and is used to pay administrative costs for licensing vehicles. Any extra money in the fund is distributed to the local government highway and bridge fund. Counties were concerned that the change proposed by the Division of Motor Vehicles would result in fewer dollars for local roads and bridges. The House Transportation Committee amended the bill to have the state charge the actual cost of postage and handling. As amended, this bill was supported by the Division of Motor Vehicles, the South Dakota Association of County Officials, and the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners.
Meanwhile, discussions continue on the best ways to fund state and local highway and bridge needs. An interim committee proposal would generate about $80 million for state roads and $21 million for local roads. Governor Daugaard’s proposal would generate about $41 million for state roads and $10 million for local roads, with the option for counties and townships to levy additional property taxes.
Other topics generating a great deal of discussion this past week included education funding and Medicaid Expansion. State law requires a minimum 1.5% funding increase for K-12 education; the governor recommended a 2% increase. In addition, he is suggesting that costs of technology, assessment, and school sparsity funding be shared between the state and local property tax payers. Currently, these three items are funded entirely with state general funds.
You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the House Lobby at 773-3851.