2013 Legislative Session — Wrap Up

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The main run of the 2013 Legislative Session wrapped up right before midnight last Friday, March 8, with passage of the state budget.  The FY2014 budget, which starts July 1, balances the budget without raising taxes, yet provides additional funding for education and Medicaid.  The projected general fund revenues for FY2014 are slightly over $1.3 billion.  In broad terms, the spending breakdown is:

  • 46% for education;
  • 39% for helping people through Medicaid and social services;
  • 10% for public safety; and
  • 5% to run the rest of state government.

Looking back over the past Session, one key accomplishment was passage of SB70, the Public Safety Improvement Act.  The act will keep violent and career offenders behind bars, yet allow non-violent offenders to live and work in their communities under improved treatment and supervision programs.  A new 24/7 monitoring program for substance abuse will ensure swift and certain sanctions for offenders.  The Act calls for improved victim notification and restitution collection, and it requires that all of these programs be measured and evaluated for effectiveness.  The Public Safety Improvement Act is projected to save our state tens of millions of dollars in prison costs while keeping South Dakota safer.

The legislature developed a multi-faceted approach to building South Dakota’s economy and creating jobs through a package of bills.  SB235 creates the Building South Dakota Fund which will use contractor’s excise taxes and other money to provide incentives for projects that create jobs and promote economic activity.  Other legislation continues the tourism promotion tax to help local communities promote the tourism industry, creates incentives for wind energy facilities by providing tax rebates of about 2% of their overall project costs, revises the distribution of the wind energy tax to invest more in township road infrastructure, and enhances ethanol exports.

A couple of bills dealt with agricultural land tax assessments.  SB6 deals with instances where the actual use of agricultural land differs from the land use category specified by soil classification standards.  In these cases, the landowner may request the Director of Equalization to examine the land and determine whether to adjust the assessed value of the land.  HB1165 asks the Ag Land Tax Assessment Oversight Task Force to look at the school general fund tax levies and determine whether the ratio of general fund money coming from agricultural land is appropriate.  The bill also mandates that the task force consider other taxes paid by agricultural property and the relationship of the assessed value of agricultural property to the assessed value of all property.

Several bills were adopted to make government more efficient.  SB45 permits citizens to renew their driver’s license online once every ten years, rather than standing in line at the licensing station.  HB1043 allows the Department of Revenue to establish an electronic title system for motor vehicles.  The legislature approved several bills brought by state agencies to eliminate outdated or obsolete statutes.

There were 492 bills introduced this Session (250 in the House and 242 in the Senate).  As of last Friday, the governor had signed 154 bills into law; 107 are on the governor’s desk awaiting signature.  If the governor vetoes any bills, they will be considered when legislators return to Pierre on March 25.

Please feel free to contact me at rep.duvall@state.sd.us.

 

2013 Legislative Session — Week 8

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Late last week legislative leaders unveiled the framework for an economic development package called “Building South Dakota.” The bipartisan plan calls for capturing contractors’ excise taxes from certain new projects, as well as using some of the unclaimed property revenue, “for the purpose of building and reinvesting in South Dakota’s economy and to create high quality jobs.”

Five main areas would be funded from the “Building South Dakota” fund:

  1. local infrastructure,
  2. economic development partnership efforts with local entities,
  3. workforce education,
  4. housing, and
  5. recapitalizing the Revolving Economic Development and Initiative (REDI) fund.

The Joint Appropriations Committee took time to hear revenue projections for the remainder of this fiscal year, and the new one beginning July 1.  Two separate sources gave their projections: the Bureau of Finance and Management, and the Legislative Research Council.  Although the two use different methods for forecasting state revenues, the two numbers were within one percent of each other in a $1.3 billion budget.

Last week the House passed SB84, to create a new commission to regulate boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and sparring competitions.  The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.

Two of the bills suggested by the Teen Safe Driving Task force were passed out of House Transportation committee.  SB106 would prohibit young drivers from using handheld electronic devices, and SB216 would establish standards for driver education courses.  The other two bills, dealing with lengthening the time for a learner’s permit and restricting the number of passengers in a car, were deferred to the 41st Legislative Day by the committee.  SB142, to create a statewide ban on all texting while driving, was defeated in House Judiciary committee on a vote of 8-5.  It had earlier passed the Senate 24-9.

The Senate this past week approved the bill clarifying that the 72-hour abortion counseling period does not include weekends or holidays.  This bill now awaits the governor’s signature.  The Senate also amended and passed the School Sentinel bill (HB1087), sending it back to the House for concurrence in amendments.

Two bills dealing with watershed management are still being discussed.  SB153 streamlines and clarifies the process for forming a watershed district.  HB1235 continues the Regional Watershed Advisory Task Force with financial support from agricultural groups.

The Main Run of the Session ends on Friday, March 8, followed by a two-week break.  Legislators will return to Pierre on Monday, March 25, for Veto Day.

Complete committee information, as well as contact information for the three District 24 legislators may be found on the Legislative Research Council website at: http://legis.state.sd.us

Please feel free to contact me at rep.duvall@state.sd.us, or by calling 605-773-3851 and leaving a message.