LEGISLATIVE COLUMN FEB 19-22

The Legislature was off Monday for the President’s Day holiday, but the House and Senate  worked hard Tuesday and Wednesday as they face the deadline for getting bills out of the chamber in which they originated. That deadline, called crossover day, was Wednesday. All Senate bills must be dealt with by the Senate — either passed and sent to the House or killed — and the House must finish work on its own bills.

The school sentinels proposal passed a key Senate committee 5-4 on Friday and needs only approval from the Senate to head to Gov. Dennis Daugaard to be signed into law. Under the proposal, school boards could vote to arm sentinels provided local law enforcement approved and the sentinels underwent training with the state. Rural schools, located far from local law enforcement and without police resource officers, want the proposal’s flexibility. As I said early,  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 Red River Formation.  Unlike our area they have one sheriff and one deputy sheriff to cover 2600 square miles.

The South Dakota Legislature has given final approval to a measure that would allow 1-cent bets in video lottery games. The House voted 39-28 Thursday to approve the measure, which was passed earlier by the Senate. The bill, which was proposed by the state Lottery Commission, now goes to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his signature.The law currently allows a minimum bet of five cents. The measure would allow players to bet as little as one cent. Supporters say penny bets are needed for new machines that offer line-up games similar to slot machines. They say the bill is part of an effort to make the games fresh and entertaining. I voted for the bill reluctantly, but the fact is the State of South Dakota and local economies have become addicted to gambling revenue. Until we find other ways to curb that addition I’m afraid we have limited alternatives.

HB 1204  An Act to require the Board of Education to obtain legislative approval before adopting any further Common Core standards, and to repeal a provision requiring the board to conduct certain public hearings was brought to the floor by Rep. Bolin. After considerable debate on both sides the House of Representatives passed HB 1204 with YEAS 36, NAYS 32. Intent to reconsider after the bill passed was brought by Rep. Hajek. Several lobbying groups were behind the scene’s encouraging the intent to reconsider, but it failed 28-41. It now goes to the Senate Ed. Committee.

HB 1089 that would require a statewide livestock ownership inspection reached the floor late Wednesday night. Following is the floor speech I delivered on behalf of HB 1089.

HB 1089 is long over due. In March of 2012 the SD Ag. Connection interviewed Mr. Zilverberg who is the special assistant attorney general for the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation regarding cattle rustling in South Dakota. In the 1800′s, Mr. Zilverberg would have been called a range detective.When asked about cattle rustling he was quoted as saying “It’s been steady. Exact figures are difficult to determine, since reports of missing cattle aren’t matched with notices that the animals have been found or recovered. Still, more than 1300 head of cattle have been reported missing from South Dakota ranches and farms in the past years, according to the South Dakota Brand Board. Exact figures are difficult to determine, since reports of missing cattle aren’t matched with notices that the animals have been found or recovered. “You don’t know if they’re stolen or missing or running around,” said Zilverberg, who has been an investigator since 1990. But he said, “There’s no doubt rustling still occurs, and the losses run into the thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. In most cases, thieves take cattle from West River ranches and bring them to sale barns in eastern South Dakota and sell them according. The main reason is that West River cattle must be branded. On the East side of the state there are no such restrictions. Many cattle on the East side of the state have ear tags. I’d like to see the law changed so all cattle in the state are branded. Thieves can bring cattle to a sale-barn and get paid for them in a matter of a few hours. They can give whatever name you like, and there is little chance to catch the rustlers. Rustling is just one way livestock crime occurs, there are a lot of ways. Physically stealing them out of a pasture, theft by embezzlement and cattle cared for by people are taken. Some people agree to watch cattle for someone else and then sell the cattle and pocket the money. Some thieves double-mortgage cattle and commit fraud in other ways.”

Also, co-owner of Mitchell Livestock Auction, told The Daily Republic that cattle rustling is still a concern in the industry. Kimball Livestock Exchange owner said as the price of beef rises, so do concerns about rustling. He also goes on to say that cattle theft seems to be a bigger problem than it was before.

In 2010, Joe Varner, a North Dakota man who owned several sale barns in the region, pleaded no contest to a charge of grand theft after 188 head of yearling heifers that were under U.S. Bankruptcy Court control went missing from Watertown Livestock Auction in 2009.

Jerry Derr also served as Director of Investigations for the South Dakota State Brand Board for six years. He was quoted as saying,” South Dakota is unique because the western part of the state requires branding, while the eastern part does not and that is where the loophole lies. Let’s say we’re here in western South Dakota, somebody could come out here on the prairie and steal a load of cattle. They could take them to Sioux Falls and sell them because they have nobody looking at the brand to determine ownership.”  Derr also goes on to say, “The State Brand Board was created in 1937 to provide livestock owners with a system of animal identification through brand registration and to ensure proper ownership of stock.” Derr believes branding is the best method because it can’t be ripped off or cut out like ear tags can. Brands are permanent.

In 2004 Iowa Public Television interviewed rancher, Ron Ragsdale from Rapid City area. Mr. Ragsdale explains, “You live in continual fear that instead of one truckload being stolen there may be four or five truckloads. And, you get to the point with any operation where it’s not big  enough to support you and the thieves both.” From 1999 to 2004 he had been a target of cattle thieves, costing him over $250,000.

And finally, we need to consider the impact that cattle rustling has on our local economies. Start with the banks that are making the loans. They have no reassurance that the State has consistency in brand laws that protects the interest of the bank. We also have to consider the impact that this might have on the ability for young peple to obtain a loan. A local sheriff said, “Most of the calls about livestock theft come from the banks.” We need to take into consideration the implications of our vote on our local economies, the young rancher and the viability of our livestock industry.

  • Beef: In South Dakota there are approximately 17,000 ranchers and cattlemen that produce 3.7 million head of cattle–we have more cattle than people! In South Dakota, the cattle industry is a family business with nearly all of the cattle businesses having been in the same families for more than 25 years.

    Today, there are more than 26,000 registered brands in the state.

    The Brand and Mark Committee was dissolved in 1925 and The State Band Board was created in 1937.

    The board operates entirely on user fees generated from livestock brand registration, renewals, transfers and inspections. No general fund money is used by the board.

    I’m sorry to report that this bill failed with a vote of 47 Nays, 22 Yeas and 1 excused. Nine west river Representative’s voted against this bill, Rep. Cammack, Rep. Craig,  Rep. Dryden, Rep. Johns, Rep. Lust, Rep. Schaefer, Rep. Sy, Rep. Wink and Rep. Gosch. We saw strong lobbying from SD Dept of Agriculture, NCBA, Farm Bureau, SD Feedlots and SD Livestock Markets all in opposition.

HB 1135 was the highly contentious bill that caused a lot of debate on the floor. I wrote about it in my Feb. 11-15 column. It regulates access to and use of non-meandered waters on private property. If you would like to see how this turned out go to the following site. It will amaze you to see how your State Government works! It’s well worth the read. http://www.capjournal.com/news/legislators-force-truce-between-sportsmen-and-owners-on-use-of/article_4132c37a-7be4-11e2-ae2b-001a4bcf887a.html

As always 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.

LEGISLATIVE COLUMN FEB. 11-15

LEGISLATIVE COLUMN  FEB. 11- 15

Well another busy week! Due to the snow storm Monday session was cancelled and we met on Friday for a make-up day.

HB 1151 extended the general immunity from liability for directors and officers of certain nonprofit fire and ambulance departments and to limit certain actions for personal injury or death. This bill will ensures our local voluntary firemen and EMT providers will not be held responsible for accidents going to emergencies in private vehicle.

HB 1128 was brought to the floor to allow home school students the opportunity to participate in the Opportunity Scholarship program.  After considerable debate on the floor the bill did not pass with a vote of 35 yeas and 35 nays. South Dakota Non-Government funded schools save taxpayers $128,985,528 with 16,639 students enrolled in over 97 non government schools. The SD Dept of Education expenditures per average daily member, 2011-2012 school year was a state-wide average cost per student was $7,752 and this cost does not include capital expenditures and bond redemption. I voted to pass HB 1128 feeling strongly that all students are part of South Dakota and saying other wise is hypocritical.

HB 1135 was a highly contentious bill that caused a lot of debate on the floor. It regulates access to and use of non-meandered waters on private property. SD Wild Life Federation and the SD Game Fish & Parks were highly opp0sed to this bill. It is the result of flooding in the Northeast part of the state in the past few years. We heard testimony from land owners that corn fields were being damaged by sportsmen and concerns about the safety of their self and private property was in question.  I confer with the V Amendment of the US Constitution that reads,” No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  Had the sportsman or Game Fish and Park asked for permission to carry out hunting and fishing on private property and allowed compensation to the land owner either through tax relief or hunting fees I think this could of been settled. The problem has been on going for nine years with no action. It passed the floor with a 37 yeas and 32 nays.

HB 1089 an act to require statewide livestock ownership inspection was brought to the committee by Rep. Dean Schrempp. He stated his ongoing concern with the lack of inspections that are being conducted. Currently there is no brand inspection east river. Last year there were only eleven inspections of livestock crossing the river and eight inspections the year before.  SD Dept of Agriculture, NCBA, Farm Bureau and SD Livestock Markets all came out in opposition to this bill stating it was cost prohibitive.  After considerable debate was heard it passed on to the floor by a vote of 7 yeas and 6 nays. I feel strongly that state wide brand inspection would help with the on going problem of livestock being transported across the river without proper documentation of ownership and curb livestock rustling. I argued that agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry and we need to look at all possible steps to protect the livestock producer.

HB 1187 also was to provide alternative brand inspection procedures for certain rodeo livestock. This bill was brought to the committee by Rep. Heinert. It would put in place a permanent  brand inspection for rodeo company’s that are moving livestock to different areas of the state on a regular basis. It passed out of committee with 13 yeas and 0 nays.

This week we were entertained with a banquet by the Independent Community Bankers of South Dakota Association. I have to say that the information I came away with was enlightening to say the least. I want to leave you with some facts that I’m sure many people are not aware off. 39% is the effective tax rate of most South Dakota Banks, 2.32% is the effective tax rate of Farm Credit Services in South Dakota, 0.00% is the effective tax rate of all SD Federal Credit Unions, $89,386,262 is the total income of Credit Union’s and Farm Credit Services in 2011, $21,735,593 is what the SD General Fund did not receive over the last 6 years from not collecting the 6% Bank Franchise Tax from Credit Unions and Farm Credit Services. As regulations bears down on community banks and small towns lose access to financial services I have to wonder why Congress continue’s to allow expansion of tax exempt entities at the expense of the taxpayers. As these entities expand tax revenue coming into the state general fund will continue to decline which will directly effect our schools, roads and government services.

As always 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.

 

Legislative Column Feb. 2-5, 2013

We are seeing considerable bills coming to the floor from the various committee’s. Some bills of interest, HB 1123 will appropriate one dollar to be deposited in the animal damage control fund and five dollars shall be deposited in a special fund known as the South Dakota sportsmen’s access and landowner depredation fund. This law and fee was already in place and all the legislators did was move $1.00 to the ADC Program. HB 1013 and HB 1015 were brought by the Board of Regents. HB 1013 was for funds of $325,000.00 to construct a multi-storage facilities at SDSU and HB 1015 was for remodeling and renovation of Medary Commons on the campus of SDSU with a cost of $2,250,000.00. Both bills passed the house with 58 yeas and 10 nays and I voted nay. The argument of one-time dollars should be used to fund one-time projects; not ongoing costs evades me when our teacher pay remains 48th in the nation. HB 1126 was brought to repeal the massage therapy licensing requirements and regulatory board. This bill had been deferred from the 15th LD while talks were ongoing. This bill stems from a 2005 licensee requirement and a mismanaged board with a high turnover. After considerable discussion and two lengthy amendments it passed on to the Senate. I find it amazing that legislature’s are put in office to settle disputes of massage therapy boards. HB 1128 was a bill to allow certain students to participate in the opportunity scholarship program. This bill arises after a home-school student was denied when applying for the scholarship. The Dept. Of Education has a standard criteria in place for public school students that doesn’t apply for home school students. We heard testimony from a student attending School of Mines in Rapid who received a 30 ACT score and was denied the scholarship. His first cousin who was educated through a public school and now is attending SDSU received the scholarship with a ACT score of 24. The Dept of Education came out against allowing the home school student from applying for the Opportunity Scholarship. The committee voted to send it to the floor and it passed on to the Senate.

I’d like to report that we are passing sweeping legislation that is going to improve our daily lives, but to date we have dealt with air, water, wildlife and snowmobile tracks for motorcycles. The bills that I thought could make a difference, like SB 125 “Shared Parenting” did not make it off the Senate floor. The Dept of Education is spending plenty of money just not on our local schools. I’m still trying to be optimistic and look forward to the few weeks we have left. I encourage everyone to stay involved with what is going on with your local, state and federal governments.

As always 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

Legislative Column January 28-31 2013

Another busy week at Pierre. On Tues HB 1119 & HB 1133 were brought to the education committee. HB 1119 was brought before the education committee by prime sponsor Rep. Kathy Tyler, District 4. This bill would have established a school-to-work grant program in the Department of Education. The purpose of the grant program was to support partnerships among school districts, local employers, and communities that are formed to assist high school seniors, who may not pursue post-secondary education, in their transition from high school to the workforce. HB 1133 was presented by prime sponsor, Rep. Munstrom, District 7. This bill was to establish an innovation grant program for school districts. Both bills had positive points, but neither bill had a dollar amount to implement the programs. Both bills were moved to the 41st day.

I was scheduled to introduce a bill to Education Committee on the 6th of February, but due to another bill being moved from the schedule I was asked to present it this week. HB 1176 was to define the word truant. The state of South Dakota does not have a definition of truant on the books. Twenty-six states have a definition of truant and three of those states are North Dakota, Minnesota and Wyoming.  The Department Of Ed. came out to oppose the bill, stating, “They want it left up to local control.” My intent was for the State of South Dakota to send a clear message on the importance of children attending school on a regular basis. Our teachers are expected to meet standards on mandated student assessment tests and we need to give them every opportunity to meet those expectations. HB 1176 was a bill that was no cost to the taxpayers while sending a strong message of importance on regular student attendance. The bill was moved to the 41st day by a vote of 10 yea and 5 nay. I will reintroduce it again next year.

Other bills of interest that passed from the house floor.

HB 1049 FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to transfer the value added agriculture sub-fund from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to the Department of Agriculture.

HB 1028  FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to repeal the requirement that a minor be accompanied by an adult while hunting mourning doves.

HB 1059    FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to repeal and revise certain obsolete and unnecessary statutes and rules relating to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. HB 1059 removed 29 pages or 2870 words from the books.

I enjoyed a evening with Gov. Dauugard and his wife Linda for dinner and a personal tour of the South Dakota Governors Mansion. I want to encourage everyone to schedule a visit to see the beautiful mansion built with donations that reflects the great history of South Dakota. I also enjoyed attending the SD School Superintendents Reception, Community Healthcare Association of the Dakota’s, Habitat For Humanity/Home Builders/Realtors and SD Land Title receptions. It was great to see faces from back home!

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate Kevin Ellis, Black Hills State University chemistry major from Oglala. Kevin worked with Dr. John Dixson, assistant professor of chemistry, to investigate medicinal plants that American Indians used to treat a variety of diseases as a new source of new, natural products to treat antibiotic resistant diseases. Kevin is one of South Dakota’s future leaders!

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.