Start of Week Four

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A year ago the third week of the Legislative Session included the resignation of a House member, DAPL protesters on the front steps of the Capitol, and legislators receiving threats about their efforts to repeal IM22, which had been declared unconstitutional.

In contrast, the third week of the 2018 Session included introduction of a spate of bills covering everything from open school enrollment to hunting mourning doves.  The deadline for all bills to be introduced is Thursday, Feb. 1.

One of the bills we deal with every year is the Governor’s Omnibus Water Funding Bill.  This is the annual request to appropriate dedicated funds for water, wastewater, and solid waste projects. There are no general funds in this bill.  Instead, the legislature passed bills in 1992 and 1993 to dedicate some of the revenues from on-line lottery ticket sales and tank inspection fees for the program.  The Water and Environment Fund also receives some of the contractor’s excise tax, tipping fees, and tire fees.

The Omnibus bill is developed through the annual state water planning process that ends with a public meeting conducted by the Board of Water and Natural Resources. This year’s proposal includes $7.5 million to provide grants and loans for drinking water, wastewater, and watershed projects, and another $2.5 million for solid waste disposal and recycling projects.  The bill also provides money for engineering studies and technical assistance for Clean Water and Drinking Water projects.

The Governor’s Omnibus Water Funding Bill has a 25-year history of successfully helping local project sponsors build water, wastewater, and solid waste projects that are important for South Dakota’s quality of life.

Last week in House Transportation committee, we heard a presentation on intersection safety, including the use of roundabouts.  According to the Department of Transportation, there are more than 11,000 intersections on the state highway system.   Many of these are where local roads, such as county roads, meet a state highway.

There are around 17,000 intersection crashes each year.  More than 27% of fatal and serious crashes occur at intersections.   For many intersections, where a minor road meets a state highway, a stop sign is the most effective way to control the intersection.  However, roundabouts are most effective for improving safety at larger intersections where there is a similar volume of traffic  from each direction.  In these cases, DOT will do a traffic analysis and cost analysis and determine if a roundabout is warranted.

The roundabouts are designed to accommodate truck traffic, with a center island surrounded by a truck apron to allow the rear wheels of the trailer to ride up over a sloped curb.  Cost of installing a roundabout is $1-2 million.  The DOT currently has eight roundabouts planned for installation in the state.

As we work our way through Session, committee activity is picking up.  Among the bills that will be heard is Transportation committee is a bill to exempt South Dakota from daylight savings time.  This bill has been tried – and failed – before in the Legislature, primarily because the vast majority of South Dakota’s population lives within an hour of the border.

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