We are in the final two weeks of the 2015 Session, which means that we have mostly taken care of the easy things. In the final days of the main run we will hammer out the FY16 budget, a road funding proposal, juvenile justice reform, and other issues.
Last week the House State Affairs committee agreed to defer the governor’s road funding proposal so they could spend time concentrating on the interim committee’s proposal. The committee will be working with the governor’s office and legislators to refine the funding package for the entire House to vote on, before sending it back to the Senate for concurrence or a conference committee.
The State Affairs committee easily passed a bill to establish a task force to study elder abuse in South Dakota, as suggested by the Chief Justice of the SD Supreme Court. The task force will consist of 17 members, and will be staffed and funded by the Unified Judicial System. The House State Affairs committee also passed the bill dealing with improving juvenile justice, after receiving a report about the fiscal impact of the bill.
Two bills addressing concerns about watershed management are still working their way through the legislative process. SB2 establishes an advisory task force to develop legislative recommendations for watershed management based on river basin districts. It also establishes a pilot water management plan to see if the concept could work throughout the state. SB3 provides for mediation of drainage disputes, utilizing the mediation program within the SD Department of Agriculture.
After lengthy debate, the House passed HB1201, giving counties and municipalities the option of approving a conditional use permit under their zoning ordinance by a simple majority rather than a super majority. On a five-member board, this changes the vote needed for approval from four to three. It also gives counties and municipalities an option of adopting a certification process for conditional uses.
The budget will be occupying a great deal of attention the final days of session. Revenue estimates are coming in lower than projected, meaning the Appropriations Committee will be looking for ways to trim expenses.
Complete legislative information is available on the Legislative Research Council website at http://legis.sd.gov/.
You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the House Lobby at 773-3851.