S.D. legislative update
We hit the halfway point of the 2014 session as we finished week number five and the process is getting lively! We dealt with some interesting issues in Ag committee this week. These are the bills we passed and sent to the House:
*HB 1097 revises the criteria for classifying property as agricultural land.
*HB 1135 revises exceptions to special assessments levied upon real property.
*My bill, HB 1184, to declare the fourth Saturday in July “Day of the American Cowboy” in South Dakota passed unanimously.
*HB 1215 to provide for the issuance of free fishing licenses to residents aged eighty-five and older. This was Rep. May’s bill that passed and was placed on consent, but has since been taken off consent and sent back to committee because GF&P wants to testify against it. Evidently they don’t think they can keep operating without the revenue they get from the old folks.
The committee killed HB 1193 that tried to stop in situ leach mining at Edgemont after hearing testimony that it is not only very safe, but a huge boost to the economy. Lane Ostenson, raised in Harding County and now living in Edgemont, was one of the people testifying against the bill. It was really nice to see Lane again.
On Wednesday the House passed a commemoration, HC 1028, honoring Ann Anderson, fifth grade science teacher at Belle Fourche Middle School for receiving the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in mathematics and science teaching. Congratulations Ann – that is very impressive!!
Here are some of the bills we passed in the House and sent over to the Senate this week:
*HB 1154 authorizes the commissioner of school and public lands to grant surface and subsurface easements to provide access to oil, gas, minerals, and geothermal resources.
*HB 1163 authorizes farm mutual insurers to invest funds in certain stocks and market funds.
*HB 1177 restricting the regulation by local governments of distracted or inattentive driving, to prohibit the use of certain handheld electronic wireless communication devices. If this passes into law, texting will be a secondary offense, the same as the seatbelt law.
*HB 1218 authorizing school districts to use tax levies for pension and health insurance purposes.
*SB 34 revising provisions concerning applications for absentee ballot and to declare an emergency.
*SB 35 revising the conditions for which certain elections may be delayed for an emergency situation and to declare an emergency.
*SB 80 provides a credit to homebuilt aircraft for sales and use taxes when paying the aircraft registration tax and to make a reimbursement to the aeronautics fund for the amount of the credit granted.
Remember that old saying “The making of laws is like the making of sausages—the less you know about the process the more you respect the result.”? I’m going to take you through the lawmaking process with a couple of my bills that compares to making sausage.
At the end of January I brought HB 1066, a bill to revise provisions restricting the presence of firearms in courthouses and the capitol. HB 1066 passed out of Local Government after it was amended to allow only SD elected officials to carry concealed weapons in public buildings. HB 1066 was defeated in the House after it was determined that county commissioners already have the power to allow weapons in the courthouses and after several speakers whined that allowing only elected officials to carry concealed weapons made us look like we consider ourselves to be “special”.
Fair enough. This week I brought another bill addressing those issues. HB 1228 would repeal the prohibitions against carrying permitted concealed weapons in just the state capitol, but not courthouses. Twelve state capitols allow permitted concealed carry. Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Michigan allow ANYONE with a concealed weapon permit to carry in their capitol buildings. Kentucky allows open carry in their capitol and Rhode Island, Missouri, Indiana, and Kansas allow legislators and staff to carry concealed weapons in their capitols for protection.
HB 1228 passed out of committee and came to the House floor Wednesday to be turned into sausage. The games began when Rep. Hickey got an amendment passed declaring “the state capitol is considered a county courthouse on days when the Supreme Court meets, on legislative days, and on the day of the Governor’s budget address”, which pretty much defeated the purpose of the bill.
I urged passage of the bill anyway, hoping that if it made it to the Senate they would strip out the amendment and pass it in its original form. As expected, some Republican legislators who evidently don’t trust South Dakota citizens and all the Democrats voted against the bill, several legislators who supported the original bill voted against what they considered to be damaged goods, two legislators were excused, and one legislator hid out in the bathroom to avoid voting against my bill after the amendment was placed on it, so HB 1228 lost by three votes.
To hear the lively debates, go to legis.sd.gov and click on 2014 legislative session on the left side of the webpage. Next click on Chamber, choose House, go to Journals, scroll down to 2/12 2:00pm and click on the eagle icon to listen to the debate on HB 1228. It was the last bill of the day, so the debate starts at about 2:30. I especially enjoyed the testimony by Rep. Greenfield, Rep. Kopp, and Rep. Kaiser and you probably will too.
To contact me in Pierre, call the House Chamber number 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 email@example.com during session. Track bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.sd.gov/ F
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In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the Agriculture Department this week announced that plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.