The Final Days of Session

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As the Session shifts into its final days, there are a few legislative procedures that can make things more interesting.  One is the “hoghouse” amendment, where the original language of a bill is replaced with entirely new language.  Legislative rules state that the amendment must be germane to the title of the bill, which explains why some bills have vague titles.  The interesting part is when the amended version doesn’t look at all like the original bill.

One example is SB86, which was brought in by Senator Partridge to clarify the “Partridge Amendment” from 2016.  When the half-cent sales tax increase was passed, legislators included a provision to ratchet back the half-cent by one-tenth of a percent for every $20 million generated from online sales taxes.  Unfortunately, the language adopted in 2016 raised questions about how to calculate and apply the tax reduction.  Thus, Senator Partridge brought in SB86 to clarify things.  However, the bill was “hoghoused” in House Tax Committee into a bill to remove the sales tax from food.  The bill was then referred to State Affairs committee, which returned it to the original form.

The Hoghouse amendment got its name from an incident in the 1920s when the building at SDSU used to house pigs was destroyed in a fire.  The deadline for introducing new bills had passed, so to find a way to appropriate money to replace the building, a legislator gutted an existing bill and substituted new language … and the “Hoghouse” amendment was born.

Another legislative maneuver which may happen in the final days of a session is to suspend the rules so new legislation can be introduced.  This happened on Monday, when the Joint Committee on Appropriations suspended the rules and introduced two new bills on behalf of Governor Noem to deal with potential pipeline protests.  SB189 would penalize “riot boosting,” or the practice of paying protestors (also known as “rent-a-mob”).  SB190 would provide a way to reimburse counties and the state for extraordinary expenses related to pipeline construction.

Legislators must pass all bills and joint resolutions by Thursday.  We will return next Monday, March 11, for a three-day run before the Veto break.

Crossover Day – we survived!

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House members worked until nine-thirty Monday evening as they completed work on House bills before the crossover deadline.  Of the 22 bills and joint resolutions on the calendar, eight were defeated.  The Senate also had 22 bills and joint resolutions, but finished their work about five hours earlier, after passing half the bills and killing half.

One of the bills the House passed on crossover day was an act to apply smoke-free laws to e-cigarettes.  According to information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth.  E-cigarette aerosol generally contains fewer toxic chemicals than the mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes. However, opponents of vaping point out that the aerosol can still contain nicotine, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents.  Research shows that vaping can weaken your immune system, damage blood vessels, and make you four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.

The House defeated an act to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 18 to 16.  This was prompted in part by concerns over the Juvenile Justice Public Safety Improvement Act, which attempts to keep more students in their home communities rather than committed to the Department of Corrections.  While recognizing that the Juvenile Justice Act needs some tweaks, legislators were not convinced that this was a step in the right direction.

Another bill that was lost was the “guns in trunks” bill which has been defeated several times before in past legislative sessions.  HB1173 would have prevented employers from restricting guns in the parking lots of their business, and given employees the right to keep a legally owned and lawfully possessed firearm locked inside a private motor vehicle.  The argument for the bill is that we have a Second Amendment right to defend ourselves.  The argument against the bill is that the Second Amendment does not supersede property rights.