2014 Legislative Session – Week 1

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South Dakota’s 89th Legislative Session convened at noon on Tuesday, January 14th.  We were privileged to welcome two new Representatives and three new Senators to the Legislature, replacing former members who resigned their seats.  Governor Daugaard’s State of the State Address on Tuesday highlighted several key factors that indicate South Dakota is a great place to live and a great state in which to own a business.  We have the second lowest state tax burden in the nation.  Our state employee pension fund is over 100% funded.  Barrons recently listed South Dakota as the Best Run State in the Nation, and CNBC rated South Dakota Number One for Business in 2013.

Some of the issues we will be working on over the 38-day Session include developing a balanced budget for our state and discussing if – and to what extent – to expand Medicaid coverage.  There will be debate over whether to repeal the death penalty, how to balance the interests of landowners and sportsmen on nonmeandered waters, and how to address concerns over the Common Core standards for education.  We will discuss legislation that would make willful, intentional, and malicious cruelty toward an animal a felony offense.  South Dakota is currently the only state without a felony penalty.  The State Veterinarian has been working throughout the interim with livestock groups, animal welfare advocates, legislators, and others to craft this legislation (SB46).

Later this month we hope to have reports of several audits currently being done on the state’s involvement in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  A federal investigation is currently underway regarding the Northern Beef Plant’s utilization of the EB-5 program.  In addition, the state is conducting an external review of GOED by a private accounting firm, an audit by the Department of Legislative Audit, and a review by accounting firm Eide Baily of GOED’s internal control procedures.  Information from these separate audits will be used to help guide legislative discussions about how the state should respond and what corrective actions need to be implemented.

District 24 legislators include:

  • Senator Jeff Monroe, who serves on the Judiciary, Taxation and Transportation committees.
  • Myself, Representative Mary Duvall, serving on Taxation and Transportation committees.
  • Representative Tim Rounds, who serves on Commerce and Energy, Local Government, and Retirement Laws committees.

Committee action will start to pick up the second week of Session.  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.sd.gov.

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

2013 Legislative Session — Week 7

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We’re down to the final two weeks of the 2013 Legislative Session, with some of the most contentious issues and the budget still remaining.

The federal sequestration deadline is March 1.  Many have serious doubts that Congress will act before then, which means automatic across-the-board spending cuts over the next ten years, totalling about $1.2 trillion.

Here are some quick numbers about the South Dakota state budget:

For every tax dollar you pay,

  • 46 cents goes for education, including K-12, Higher Education, the Tech Schools, and the Department of Education
  • 39 cents is to take care of people through Medicaid, the Human Services Center, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and similar programs
  • 10 cents is for protecting the public – corrections, the court system, public safety, and Attorney General
  • 5 cents funds the rest of state government, consisting of ten departments, four bureaus, the legislature, the Governor’s Office, and the five Constitutional Offices.

The House was in Session until after ten o’clock last Wednesday night as we worked to finish all House bills by the “crossover” deadline.  The Senate was in session until about 8:30 p.m., dealing with their bill load.

The bill dealing with nonmeandered lakes was tabled by the Senate State Affairs committee after GF&P Secretary Jeff Vonk and the attorney representing the landowners committed to working over the summer interim to find a solution they could both agree upon.

The bill to promote patient choice (HB1142) passed the House 39-30 and has been referred to Senate Commerce.  HB1237, dealing with the 72-hour abortion counseling period, passed the House 56-13 and has been referred to Senate State Affairs.

The school sentinel bill had a public hearing last Friday in Senate State Affairs committee and was sent to the floor on a 5-4 vote.  The bill was amended to remove the provision stating that any discussion conducted by a school board regarding a school sentinel program was to be conducted in an executive or closed meeting.

The House will be dealing with a package of four bills that came out of the Teen Safe Driving Task Force.  One would extend the length of time for a learner’s permit, one would ban use of handheld electronic devices by young drivers, one would restrict the number of kids in a car, and one would create statewide standards for driver education.  The House will also have an opportunity to consider a statewide texting ban.

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.