Legislative Updates

by Representative Cooper Garnos

It’s starting to pick up in the second week of the 40-day legislative session. Many bills have been introduced and heard, and many others promise to be hot issues in the next few weeks.

House Concurrent Resolution 1001 passed out of the House of Representatives and is up for consideration in the Senate. This bill requests that the Department of Agriculture re-impose the ban on the importation of Canadian cattle. The ban was lifted earlier this month but since then, a recent case of Mad Cow Disease has been exposed.

House Bill 1075 will be heard on Monday, January 24, in the Health and Human Services committee. This bill increases the ban on smoking in public places, leaving only hotels and motels exempt. This would take smoking out of bars, video lottery establishments and liquor and tobacco stores.

Another bill coming up in the House will be Senate Bill 20. This bill will prohibit a mobile telecommunications service provider from including a subscriber’s telephone number in a wireless directory assistance service database without the subscriber’s authorization. It passed unanimously in the Senate, bringing it now into the House of Representatives.

The Appropriations Committee has been very busy in the past two weeks. Both the House and Senate committees have jointly met with many state departments to hear about their proposed budgets. This will make things flow more smoothly when it comes time at the end of session to approve the budget for this fiscal year.

My committee meetings have also started to pick up this week. I serve on the State Affairs and Taxation committees, both of which have heard a number of bills this week. I am in my seventh year, or fourth term, of serving in the House of Representatives. I have had the opportunity to help many of the new members in learning the procedures and technicalities of the legislature.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or ideas. My e-mail address is rep.garnos@state.sd.us, and my telephone numbers are 605-773-3851 (House of Representatives) and 605-895-2414 (home).

by Representative Barry Jensen

The second week of the 91st Legislature of South Dakota has now been completed with just over 170 bills being introduced to date. In a typical year, 500-600bills are introduced by the various members of the legislature, plus those brought forward by the different departments of state government.

This week will see a large number of these bills dropped by the individual legislators, as opposed to the first two weeks, when the various state agencies bring most of their proposals forward.

The Ag and Natural Recourses Committee has only seen about half a dozen bills, all of which have been clean-up legislation with very little controversy. However, the next week will provide a little more excitement as the Game Fish and Parks will bring in HB 1059, which will allow them the authority to establish recreation on non-meandered bodies of water. This bill will be in committee on Thursday and has already been amended prior to being introduced. It will have plenty of testimony on both sides of the issue.

The other committee that I sit on is the Judiciary Committee, which has had more bills passed through it. Here, again, most of the legislation has come from different agencies, but have really resulted in some very good changes that should provide some very positive results.

One such bill will allow for a quicker placement and process when dealing with battered and abused children. Often these kids are passed over or left in limbo while the judicial system grinds along.

The House passed a resolution requesting the United States Dept. of Agriculture to re-impose the ban on importation of Canadian cattle.

HB 1020 was brought by the Department of Corrections and will make the process of clemency and parole more efficient.

Other bills coming up this week will be HB 1075, which will expand the ban on smoking and also raise the price of a pack of cigarettes a dollar and 35% on smokeless tobacco.

Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have concerns or just wish to give your opinion on an issue. The easiest is to call my cell phone 685-4777.

’Til next week,

Rep. Barry Jensen

by Senator John Koskan

Greetings from Pierre,

This week we have been getting legislation ready to be drafted. We have also been attending informational meetings, and meetings with agencies to get updated about current issues. Committee loads have been light, and some committee meetings have even been canceled as we await the filing of more bills.

A bill of importance to gun owners will soon begin committee hearings. I know that this bill will be publicly criticized by a group that has been sending out letters and post cards. This group of citizens called the South Dakota Gun Owners who have been soliciting money and circulating incorrect information in opposition to this bill. Under current federal regulations anyone convicted in a minor case of domestic violence is prohibited from using or possessing a gun for the rest of their life. In an effort to make this current law less stringent, we will be proposing that the ban be changed from a life ban to a one-year ban. I would like to stress that this bill will increase the rights of gun owners, not infringe upon them, and that this bill is endorsed by the NRA.

Some bills that were under consideration this week included Senate bills 11 and 34. Senate bill 11 addresses the issue of standardized testing for home schooled children. The bill was intended to require home schooled students to have their standardized tests administered by a local school official. The bill also posed sanctions on the parents of students who performed below acceptable levels. In the Education Committee hearing of this bill, it was differed to the 41st day of session (a motion that kills a bill). The bill was defeated because the education committee did not feel it was necessary. According to recent figures, home schooled students perform very well on standardized tests.

Senate bill 34 seeks to approve an increase of $1.16 million in funds to the South Dakota Agriculture Experimental Station. This money will be used to construct an anaerobic manure digester. This digester will help reduce odor and has the ability to produce a much more effective fertilizer out of the manure. The digester also is capable of generating electricity. This electricity will help to defer some of the energy. There was an energy conference held Monday. This conference was sponsored by the Public Utilities Commission, the legislature, Governor Round’s office, as well as members of the private sector. The conference aimed to increase energy consciousness and featured several national speakers. These speakers included members of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the coal industry, the nuclear energy industry, Basin Electric officials, and a speaker affiliated with the group that is helping Wyoming develop energy production and transmission. These speakers highlighted the future of energy, and the opportunities that developing a transmission line would present for South Dakota.

Thank you for your support throughout the legislative session. Please contact me if you have any thoughts or comments. My office number here in Pierre is 773-3820. You can reach me by e-mail at sen.koskan@state.sd.us. You can also send me mail by addressing it to me at 500 E. Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501.