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.

2013 Legislative Session — Week 6

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Three weeks remain in the Main Run of the 2013 Legislative Session.  Appropriations committee members continue to work on the state budget for FY14, which begins July 1 this year and continues through June 30, 2014.  A key component of the budget picture – whether there will be federal sequestration and how that will affect South Dakota – remains in limbo.

Medicaid.  Based on comments from constituents and interest groups, legislative leaders scheduled a special joint Health and Human Services committee hearing to discuss Medicaid Expansion.  This is a complicated issue with a lot of moving parts, and the more information legislators have, the better.

HB1135.  I offered an amendment to HB1135, the bill giving landowners the ability to regulate access to flooded private property.  In response to what many felt was a great deal of misinformation and misdirection by wildlife groups on the issue, the amendment was designed to clarify that this deals only with recreational access to private property, it does not seek to disrupt 130 years of water law.  The amendment also sought to further clarify that this deals only with nonmeandered bodies of water.  The bill passed the House 37-32 and has been referred to Senate State Affairs.

Gun Bills.  Two unsuccessful attempts were made to “smoke out” gun bills that had died in committee.  A “smoke out” is a legislative maneuver by which one-third of the members elect can direct a committee to send a bill to the floor.  One of the bills was referred to by supporters as the “Constitutional Carry” bill, because it basically did away with the concealed carry permit in South Dakota.  It had only one proponent in committee, and was opposed by law enforcement.  The other bill would have provided that any federal law imposing limitations on firearms or limiting the size of firearm magazines was unenforceable in South Dakota.  It died in committee on a 12-1 vote.  Neither smoke out attempt was successful.

HB1142.  Issues which are proving to be contentious include legislation to require insurance companies to allow a patient to go to any medical provider who is willing to meet the terms and conditions established by the health insurer.  Patient advocates believe that HB1142 will improve patient choice; insurance companies contend it will lead to increased medical costs.

HB1237.  Another controversial bill is HB 1237, which would specify that the 72-hour waiting period before an abortion does not include weekends or holidays.  Proponents say this is needed because pregnancy counseling centers are not open on weekends or holidays; opponents say this adds an extra burden to women seeking an abortion.  It passed House Judiciary Committee on a 9-2 vote.

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.