S.D. Legislative session gets rolling | TSLN.com

S.D. Legislative session gets rolling

Betty Olson
Representative, District 28B

Representative Betty Olson, District 28B - Courtesy photo

The Executive Board met on Monday before the 2014 Legislative session started. We approved the language in the first bill to be introduced in the Senate. SB 1 provides for the selection of the chair and vice chair of the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council, to provide for the year-round governance of the Legislative Research Council by the Executive Board, to provide for the term of each constituted Executive Board, and to provide for continuity of board membership. We also had the Legislative Research Council compile a list of protocols for the nonpartisan staffing of partisan caucuses to help both political parties about constitutionality, legality, legislative precedent, legislative research, fiscal analysis, and other issues that may arise that have nothing to do with partisan politics.

Tuesday was the first day of the 2014 Legislative session. Five legislators resigned last year after the 2013 session, so Gov. Daugaard appointed replacements for their positions. Senator Blake Curd replaces Mark Johnston in District 12, Senator Chuck Jones replaces Russell Olson in District 8, Senator Alan Solano replaces Stan Adelstein in District 32, Representative Dave Anderson replaces Patty Miller in District 16, and Representative Kris Langer replaces Jon Hansen in District 25.

Gov. Daugaard gave his State of the State address Tuesday afternoon. Both the State of the State address and his budget address were encouraging.

South Dakota is definitely moving in the right direction. Unlike the federal government, South Dakota has balanced our budget every year for 125 years. South Dakota has the second lowest state tax burden in the nation. The South Dakota Retirement Pension Fund is over 100 precent funded. Barrons recently listed South Dakota as the Best Run State in the Nation and CNBC rated SD #1 for Business in 2013!

South Dakota's unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent – the second lowest in the nation. Only 15 states have recovered all of the jobs those states lost during the recession. South Dakota is one of them. Today South Dakota has over 10,000 more jobs than we did before the recession. South Dakota is 2.5 percent above our pre-recession peak, while the nation remains about 1 percent below pre-recession levels.

South Dakota's average personal income growth continues to be among the highest in the nation. In the third quarter of last year, personal income growth compared to the same quarter in 2012 was the highest in the nation. Our per capita income now exceeds the national average. Numbers available for 2012 indicate that the average South Dakotan earns about 3.8 percent more than the average American and because of that, we've seen a 1.3 percent decrease in the number of people on Medicaid and a 2.4 percent decrease in those enrolled for SNAP or food stamps.

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Since the state is in good shape financially, we will be able to give increases of three percent to K-12 education, Medicaid providers and state salaries, which is a 1.6 percent increase called for by statute and standard practice.

Harding County teachers Laura Johnson and Gene Von Bickerdyke brought twenty three Harding County students to Pierre to join ten other schools to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our national anthem by singing "The Star Spangled Banner" in the Capitol rotunda during the noon hour on Wednesday. The mixed chorus did an outstanding job! Thanks to all who participated.

The Chief Justice David Gilbertson gave the State of the Judiciary message to the Legislature Wednesday afternoon. One of the things Judge Gilbertson mentioned was the collection of early courthouse pictures that the Hon. William J. Srstka donated after his retirement last year. The collection of county courthouses dating from the 1900s to the 1950s is on display outside the Supreme Court Courtroom for public enjoyments. When I took the Harding County students on a tour of the Capitol building, they were very interested in seeing what the old courthouse in Buffalo looked like.

So far we haven't dealt with much legislation yet and not many legislators have turned their bills into LRC. With few exceptions, most of the 64 House bills, 65 Senate bills, and two House Concurrent Resolutions have come from various state agencies and summer studies.

The major issues we will deal with this session are education and Medicaid funding, non-meandered lakes legislation, Common Core standards, EB-5 program oversight, and Division of Insurance regulatory bills.

The other hot-button issue for the agriculture community is Senate Bill 46, which would make cruelty to animals a class 6 felony. Every Ag organization in the state has been working long and hard with state veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven to come up with a law that will satisfy the Humane Society and PETA folks without hurting our livestock and pet owners. Several legislators representing the ag community, including me, remain skeptical. We are studying the issue and will try to do what is best for our constituents whose livelihood depends on us making the right decision.

Rep. Hickey is going to bring a bill to try to do away with capital punishment. Attorney General Marty Jackley sent a packet to all legislators giving the details of the crimes committed by every one of the convicted murderers on death row in South Dakota. After reading what those depraved criminals did to their victims, I doubt Rep. Hickey's bill even makes it out of committee. Reading the details of how those innocent victims suffered was absolutely sickening!

To get in touch with me in Pierre, call the House Chamber number 605-773-3851. Leave a phone number and I'll call you back. The fax number is 773-6806. If you send a fax, address it to Rep. Betty Olson. You can also email me at rep.bettyolson@state.sd.us during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ Use this link to find the 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.