I have written before about the need to increase the biosafety features at the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory in Brookings, as well as address severe overcrowding of the lab. For the past two years, I have been working with agricultural groups and other stakeholders, the administration, and other legislators to identify the need, define the cost, and find ways to pay for the upgrade and expansion.
Last year the Legislature appropriated $1.6 million to conduct an in-depth design study of the needs and costs for the lab project. The engineering estimate came back late last summer. After making adjustments to defer some parts of the project, as well as account for one-time money proposed by the Governor and SDSU, the remaining cost is pegged at $46.2 million.
Three bills have been introduced this Session dealing with the lab.
SB172 is the Governor’s bill, which we have been working on for the past several months. It appropriates one-time money, identifies ongoing money, and outlines a menu of potential fees on animal owners to help pay for the ADRDL upgrade and expansion. The fees outlined in the bill, and the amount of those fees, are all highly negotiable at this point. Livestock groups continue to work with legislative leadership and the Appropriations Committee to put together a funding package that makes sense. This bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Appropriations, but has not been scheduled for hearing.
HB1157 is a placeholder bill put in by leadership, to be used as a backup plan in case the governor’s proposal falls completely apart. This bill has been assigned to House State Affairs committee.
SB162 is an alternative proposal brought in by Senator Stace Nelson and Representative Oren Lesmeister. The original version of the bill would have taken $10 million from the Higher Education Facilities Fund (HEFF) and $40 million from the Revolving Economic Development and Initiative (REDI) Fund to pay for the lab. After learning that HEFF monies could not be used for this purpose, the bill was hoghoused during a Joint Appropriations Committee hearing late last week to take $35 million from the REDI fund, plus dedicate ten percent of the excise tax collected on farm machinery sales. Last year about $22 million in taxes were collected from farm machinery sales. SB162 has been deferred to a later date by the committee.
When the ADRDL needed an upgrade and expansion in 1993, livestock leaders stepped up and developed a plan to help cover the cost. At that time, they pushed to remove the sales tax exemption on paraciticides. The livestock groups I have been working with are again indicating that they are willing to invest in this vital piece of infrastructure. The questions are: what funding sources and how much?