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 4

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Governor Daugaard signed the first bill of 2013 on Thursday when he gave final approval to HB1066, which makes permanent the half-cent tourism promotion tax.  Also on Thursday, the House passed SB70, the Public Safety Improvement Act.  This bill is designed to hold violent offenders accountable with swift and sure sanctions, yet reduce overall prison costs by expanding the use of drug and alcohol courts.  This bill passed the Senate 31-2 and the House 63-7.

The Senate Ag Committee gave unanimous approval to a bill designed to increase fertilizer-related research at SDSU.  SB115 would increase the commercial fertilizer inspection fee paid by distributors, from 15 cents per ton to 30 cents per ton.  The extra money would be set aside to help fund research projects at SDSU.  Cost to farmers is estimated to be two to four cents per acre.  The bill has broad support from agricultural groups as a necessary investment to help provide updated information.  The Governor’s Office opposed the bill, calling it a tax increase.

Two bills, in particular, are generating a great deal of e-mail for legislators.

HB 1126 would repeal the massage therapy licensing requirements and the board which oversees the program.  The Board of Massage Therapy and accompanying statutes were instituted by the 2005 Legislature, and amended in 2007.  This bill would repeal all those statutes.  Some massage therapists in the state are pushing for a repeal of the licensing statutes; others are opposed to the measure.  The bill passed out of House Commerce committee on a vote of 11-2.  Floor action has been deferred while amendments are being developed by the Daugaard Administration.

HB 1156 would put the Game, Fish & Parks Commission in charge of setting waterfowl licenses, rather than the Legislature.  Currently, the GF&P Commission sets all other hunting and fishing licenses, with the exception of waterfowl.  Those supporting the measure say that the GF&P Commission – which meets frequently throughout the year and which has a staff of wildlife biologists on hand – is better suited than the Legislature for setting license numbers and seasons.  Opponents of the measure believe that allowing the Commission to set licenses and seasons would mean the loss of waterfowl hunting for in-state hunters, and would lead to more commercialization for out-of-state hunters.  This bill passed the House Ag Committee on a vote of 9-3.

Another hunting measure which passed the Ag Committee, and which was opposed by only the SD Wildlife Federation, is a bill to increase the license surcharge  by one dollar to help bolster the animal damage control fund.  This bill, HB1123, is supported by agricultural groups and the Department of Game, Fish & Parks.  It passed out of committee 12-0.

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.