The 2013 legislative session is winding down with two weeks remaining to finish the peoples’ business. Wednesday was Cross Over day where all the bills had to be dealt with in the house of origin. The Senate got through the last of their bills earlier than the House, but we finished before 11:00 that night and didn’t have to “cover the clock” like some earlier legislatures did in order to finish their work.
These bills passed out of House Ag this week with no opposition:
• SB 17 to make an appropriation from the coordinated natural resources conservation fund to the State Conservation Commission passed.
• Sen. Vehle and I brought SB 205 to put wolves on the predator list in South Dakota. Right now wolves are on the endangered species list in western South Dakota. The western Dakotas are part of the Rocky Mountain region and wolves have been taken off the endangered species list in all the other states in the region, leaving the western North and South Dakota as isolated territory where wolves are protected by federal law. The eastern Dakotas are part of the Great Lakes region where wolves are not considered endangered.
Game Fish and Parks Sec. Vonk suggested this legislation to me last year after USFW told him that wolves were going to be removed from the endangered species list in 2012 and Game Fish and Parks (GF&P) testified in favor of SB 205. Making mountain lions game animals didn’t work out so well. These large predators have drastically decreased the number of elk and deer available for hunters. I don’t think GF&P wanted to make the same mistake with wolves and so far all the legislators have agreed.
• SB 166 passed out of Local Government on Thursday. SB 166 will increase the number of years for a concealed weapon permit from four years to five years to make it consistent with the background checks when you buy a firearm.
• HB 1087, The School Sentinel bill, narrowly passed out of Senate State Affairs with a 5 to 4 vote. HB 1087 would allow local school boards to decide if they wanted to allow school employees to carry concealed weapons on school premises to protect the students and themselves. These volunteers will receive the same firearms training as law enforcement officers and would certainly make our isolated rural school districts safer.
• The House killed HB 1089 requiring statewide livestock ownership inspection on Wednesday.
The Senate passed these bills important to our area:
• SB 238 to appropriate money to the animal damage control fund for predator control services and to declare an emergency.
• SB 183 revises provisions relating to hunting trespass and increases penalties for trespassing.
The biggest issue facing our state and nation is sequestration starting on Mar. 1. President Obama brought sequester in 2011 as a threat to Congress to get them to raise taxes. Congress insists on cutting spending instead of raising taxes and Obama is blaming everyone else for the problems he created. Buckle your seat belts folks!
You can keep track of the legislature here: http://legis.state.sd.us/ Use this link to find legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact the legislators.