Week six

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Guns, babies, and taxes were some of the issues addressed by the Legislature last week. We are at the deadline for bills to pass the house of origin and cross over to the other chamber. Many of the less controversial issues have already been addressed, leaving an array of contentious topics to be resolved.

The House easily approved HB1215, a bill to provide an optional enhanced permit to carry a concealed weapon. The current concealed carry permit would still be available, at $10 for five years. The enhanced permit would require additional identification, training, and cost, and would allow for reciprocity with more states. This bill passed the House 67-0 and has been referred to Senate Judiciary committee. The House failed to pass HB1206, to authorize concealed weapons to be carried on public university campuses. The House also failed to pass HB1183, which would have allowed concealed weapons to be carried in the Capitol Building.

After a lengthy hearing, the House Taxation committee voted to defer HB1207 to the 41st Legislative Day, effectively killing the bill, since the state constitution limits legislative sessions to 40 days. This bill would have capped future growth of school capital outlay taxes, directed more money to the per-student allocation, and increased local property taxes for K-12 education. While some schools and several agricultural groups supported the concept, many smaller schools argued that their locally-elected school boards were in a better position than the legislature to determine their capital outlay needs. This concept may be resurrected in some form on the Senate side.

Two bills dealing with abortion were considered by the Legislature last week. HB1155 would require that information be provided to a pregnant mother whose child tests positive for Down syndrome. This bill had passed the House on a vote of 52-15, but was tabled by the Senate Health committee. HB1230 would have prohibited the beheading of unborn children. This bill was not supported by pro-life groups, and was amended to read: “The State of South Dakota recognizes the sanctity of human life.” In that form, it passed the House 65-3 and has been referred to Senate Health Committee.

Both U.S. Senator Rounds and Congresswoman Noem visited the South Dakota legislature last week, and both discussed the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. In addition, the Canadian Consulate General, Jamshed Merchant, addressed an informal joint session of the House and Senate, on February 18 – two hundred years after the Treaty of Ghent was signed, ending the War of 1812. Mr. Merchant explained that more than 40% of South Dakota’s foreign-bound goods are sold to Canada, and annual trade between the state and Canada totals $1.2 billion.

Complete legislative information is available on the Legislative Research Council website at http://legis.sd.gov/.

You may reach me at maryduvall@midco.net or by calling the House Lobby at 773-3851.

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