Legislative Column (January 22-25)

In my column last week I reported that there would be a bill coming to allow school boards to authorize sentinel programs. This bill in no way was encouraging school boards to arm teachers with guns, but to allow school baords the opportunity to work with local law enforcement to train qualified individuals to protect our schools. The prime sponsor of the bill, Rep. Scott Craig, District 30 introduced HB 1087 to the Education Committee. It was standing room only while the committee listened to presentations from proponents and opponents. The committee had to defer HB 1087 until Thursday because of time restraint. On Thursday an amendment was introduced to HB 1087 that addressed concerns of opponents to the bill. Opponents reiterated their concerns of local school boards having complete control over the sentinel program. This amendment was brought in good faith with language that all school boards would obtain the approval of the county sheriff who has jurisdiction over the school premises. It also added language that would require complete sentinel training course. The vote on the amendment passed by one vote. We then were allowed to move on HB 1087 which passed with a 8-7 vote. It now will come to the house floor for debate. The concern comes from the recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Conn. I support the bill because of our neighbors to the north that are seeing influx of oil drilling activity. Across the boarder in Montana last year two men that came from the oil fields raped and murdered a teacher on her way to school. Harding County is the largest county in the state with vast land and very few residents. My concern is the school sets right on HWY 85 which is the main through-way for the oil boom. Harding County itself takes in part of the Baakon Oil Field. They do not have the local law enforcement that other places in the state have.  I don’t just represent District 27 on these important issues, but also the rest of the state too. We are all focused on keeping our children safe and at the same time protecting the Second Amendment.

The Ag and Natural Resource Committee met on Wed. HB 1007 was introduced by Senator Larry Rhoden, District 29. This bill was an act to restrict the term of conservation easements. This would end perpetual easements and change it to thirty years. Several land owners that have perpetual easements on their land testified against this bill.  As much as I agreed with parts of the bill it was about property owners rights in the end. I voted against this bill and it failed to make it out of committee.

On Wednesday State Tribal Relations Day was held at the Capital Rotunda.  The annual event focused this year on tribal housing needs and initiatives. State-Tribal Relations Day highlighed the need for housing on the reservations as well as the accomplishments of tribal housing projects and initiatives.  This event is designed to provide tribal and state leaders with an opportunity to learn about each other and to exchange ideas that can lead to improved intergovernmental relations. The event began with a tribal listening session at the Matthew Training Center at the Foss Building, followed by a welcome from Gov. Dennis Daugaard and comments by tribal leaders in the Capitol Rotunda. Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribal singers and dancers provided a live performance in the Rotunda, and lunch was sponsored by Intertribal Bison Cooperative and Lakota Thrifty Mart.

You can contact me at 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. Elizabeth May. You can also email me at rep.may@state.sd.us during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ You can also 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.

 

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