South Dakota legislative session ends
March 31, 2014
The 2014 legislative session is over. Once again, the legislature balanced the budget without raising taxes. Because of South Dakota's dedication to smaller government, lower taxes and personal responsibility, over the last two years we were listed as the top state by these entities:
#1 Best Run State – 2012 Barron's
#1 America's Top State to do Business – 2013 CNBC
#1 Growth in Personal Income – 2013 Bureau of Economic Analysis (from 2010-2011)
#1 Enterprising States – Best Business Climate-2013 US Chamber of Commerce Foundation
#1 Percent Growth in Entrepreneurial Activity – 2013 Fast Company Magazine
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#1 Best Business Tax Climate – 2012 Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
#1 Best Business Policy – 2012 Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Pretty impressive, isn't it?
Ann Anderson, the fifth grade science teacher at Belle Fourche Middle School who received the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, was in Pierre on Tuesday. When Ann visited the House Chambers, I read the commemoration we gave honoring her outstanding teaching and academic performance throughout her career. Congratulations Ann!
Department of Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch gave legislators a Blizzard Recovery Update on March 13th. The update included discussions regarding financial assistance programs for producers affected by the Atlas Blizzard. S.D. Stockgrowers and S.D. Cattlemen gave presentations on the work they did together to help the livestock producers who were severely impacted by the October storm.
These are the last bills we passed through the House this week:
•SB 1 provides for the selection of the chair and vice chair of the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council, revises the membership of the Executive Board, provides for the term of each constituted Executive Board, provides for the year-round governance of the Legislative Research Council by the Executive Board, and provides for continuity of board membership.
•SB 13 makes texting a secondary offense punishable by a $100 fine.
•SB 25 establishes the procedure to forfeit personal property in child pornography, human trafficking, child solicitation or exploitation cases, and to direct money from the forfeitures.
•SB 85 revises provisions regarding confidential criminal justice information.
•SB 137 makes an appropriation to rehabilitate state-owned rail lines.
•SB 168 authorizes criminal background checks for officers and employees of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
The animal cruelty bill, SB 46, passed on Tuesday with only fifteen of us voting against it. The governor signed it on Friday, but I really hope it doesn't come back to bite animal agriculture. Cruelty to animals was already against the law in South Dakota, but after the legislature caved in to threats from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) this bill now makes cruelty to animals a felony.
The governor also signed two of my bills on Friday. The two bills were SB 82 revising provisions concerning purchases, sales, and contracts made by public officers with the state or its political subdivisions and revising provisions concerning agreements or other transactions of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority and HB 1184 designating the fourth Saturday in July the "Day of the American Cowboy". All the sponsors of HB 1184 were invited to Gov. Daugaard's office to watch him sign our bill honoring cowboys with an unpaid state holiday.
Two of my other bills, HB 1118 clarifying provisions about discharging firearms in safety zones and SB 22 authorizing the issuance of citations for livestock inspection violations are on the governor's desk awaiting his signature.
Friday was a sad day for some of us. Twenty one members of the House and seven members of the Senate will not be coming back to the same legislative house next year. I and five other House members are termed out. Two Senators, Sen. Jean Hunhoff from District 18 and our Sen. Ryan Maher from District 28, are also termed out. Several other members of both houses will be leaving the legislature for various reasons. Some of the members who are termed will be running to fill seats in the opposite house.
Since Sen. Maher and I are both termed out, I will be running for his seat in the Senate, but Sen. Maher isn't running for any office this year. Ryan is still chairman of the Executive Board and that, along with his two businesses, keeps him very busy. I also serve on the Executive Board and we will continue working until January 2015 as we try to find a new Executive Director of the Legislative Research Council to replace Jim Fry who retired last year.
The last official day of the 2014 legislative session is Veto Day on March 31. If you want to contact me, my phone number at the ranch is 605-855-2824 and you can email me at email@example.com
Since Monday was Saint Patrick's Day, I'll leave you with this Irish blessing:
May you be poor in misfortune
Rich in blessings
Slow to make enemies
Quick to make friends.
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
May you know nothing but
Happiness from this day forward. F