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 2

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Week two of the 88th Legislative Session was highlighted by an increase in the number of bills being introduced, initial approval of the Public Safety Improvement Act, and House approval of the bill to continue the half-cent tourism promotion tax.

HB1066 is the bill to continue the half-cent tourism promotion tax.  Over three-fourths of the tax (76%) is paid by out-of-state visitors to the state.  The money is used to help market South Dakota as a tourist destination, by partnering with local tourism groups through cooperative marketing programs.  In addition, the money helps fund the SD Arts Council, the State Historical Society’s Archaeological Research Center, and a portion of the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

The bill passed the House Tax committee with a 14-1 vote, and passed the full House with a 64-4 vote.  It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

SB70, An Act to Improve Public Safety, had its first public hearing on Friday in the Senate State Affairs Committee.  The bill has widespread support among the Judicial and Executive branches, as well as pro-family groups, counties and cities, mental health professionals, and local law enforcement.  While the Attorney General, State Bar, and Trial Lawyers support the bill, the state Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union of SD oppose the bill.

After a lengthy hearing, the bill was amended slightly and passed from committee on a 8-0 vote.  It will be considered by the full Senate next Wednesday.

Nearly 230 bills have been introduced as of Friday.  There are still five more days available for legislators to introduce their proposals.  One bill which will undoubtedly generate a great deal of discussion is HB1087, which would give local school boards the option to establish a “school sentinel program” to promote school safety.  The school board would need to work with local law enforcement before allowing armed employees, hired security personnel, or volunteers to serve as sentinels.

The Appropriations Committee is systematically going through the proposed budget from each state agency.  In addition, they will start hearing requests for special appropriations.  Overshadowing the entire budget process is uncertainty over the federal sequester cuts.  These potential cuts have been deferred until March 1. The State Legislature is scheduled to end its Main Run on March 8.

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.