Feb. 17-21, 2014

Every time I cross the Capitol’s threshold, it’s with the knowledge that I report to the people, not Pierre.

That’s why I brought forth two bills: HB 1234 and HB 1214. The first supplants the Common Core standards, because there’s nothing standard or common about our children – nor should there be about their education. The second would require an analysis of the financial impacts incurred by Common Core’s implementation.

In 2010, before I ran for office, a drastic overhaul of South Dakota’s educational system happened without a vote from the legislature or a voice from the people. Shrouded in secrecy, Common Core remains an issue propped up by special interests that reward a blind eye over a clear vision. I attempted to shine a spotlight into the depths with a bill that would determine the potential costs local school districts faced.

Friday, eight members of the Legislature opposed that measure, preferring the shadows that spawned an irresponsible program with the potential to squander millions as opposed to a sunshine law that would protect the people we all purport to represent.

Their refusal to even consider the costs of Common Core has laid a heavy burden on the backs of taxpayers.

Following are some other bills that were voted on this week.

One of the major topics of discussion this week in the Senate was SB169- An Act to provide for access to and use of public waters on public and private property and to protect private property rights for the citizens of South Dakota. The bill is also known as the non-meandered lakes bill. The bill passed the House and Senate State Affairs Committee, however it was tabled on the Senate floor with a 31-3 vote after sportsmen and landown-ers were unable to find enough common ground to compromise. This is the third attempt over the past 8 years to pass legislation about this issue and it will likely return next year for a fourth attempt.

The Senate passed SB 90 stating the South Dakota High School Activities Association should be subject to the same open government laws as the school boards that authorized it. The bill passed 29-5 and will now go to the House for further consideration.

The Senate also passed SB 180 to authorize the increase in the number of video lottery machines that may be placed in a licensed establishment under certain conditions. It would increase the limit from 10 to 15 per licensed establishment. The bill passed with a 22-12 vote and will now go to the House.

Highlights from the House

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed HB 1244 with an 8-4 vote. The bill would provide health insurance for some South Dakotans below the poverty line by taxing the property of currently tax-exempt hospitals. It would apply to people earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line — $11,670 for an individual or $23,850 for a family of four. To receive the health care coverage, individuals would have to not be eligible for Medicaid, Medicare, or the Indian Health Service, and would have to work 40 hours per week. This bill has already generated a lot of press attention.

House Taxation Committee defeated HB 1227 with a 9-4 vote. The bill was intended to wean the state off of video lottery revenue. The House also voted 70-0 to require all public schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day.
Three smokeouts were attempted in the House this week . A “smokeout” is a procedural move to attempt to force a bill that was defeated in committee to the floor. In the House, 24 votes are needed to “smokeout” a bill.
-The smokeout for HB 1215 was successful and necessary to fix a procedural error. The bill would provide for the issuance of free fishing licenses to residents aged eighty-five and older. I brought this bill on behalf of senior citizens.

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 Week Feb.10-14

As I addressed in previous columns, the adoption of Common Core State Standards by our SD Dept of Education continues to be a hot topic. On Wednesday I will bring two bills addressing the concerns echoed by parents,teachers and taxpayers from across the state.

HB 1214 wil require a study and analysis of the financial, fiscal, and economic impacts of implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Nationally, CCSS was rolled out to the 45 states and adopted in 2010, with no analysis as to the cost to implement such changes. Two years later, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released their analysis in March of 2012, entitled, “Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core,” and estimated it would cost the states approximately $12.1 B. Later that year, December 2012, the Pioneer Institute released their analysis entitled, “National Cost of Aligning States & Localities to the Common Core Standards” with a national estimate of $15.8 B. Taking into account the $4 B given to states via the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant from American Recovery Act ; Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the states were estimated to bear the cost of $8.1 (Fordham) to $11.8 B (Pioneer) for the implementation of these new standards.

Currently, States across the country are beginning to implement the CCSS and are spending billions to do it. California announced its one-time allocation of $1.25 B to help schools districts begin the implementation process. Florida has asked for $441.8 million for subsidies to local school districts just for the required technology upgrades. These two states alone are spending approximately $1.7 B, accounting for 14% of the national cost projected by the Fordham study & 11% of the national cost projected by the Pioneer Institute, even though these two states only account for 4% of all the states nationally that have adopted CCSS. Thus, indicating these preliminary estimates are lower than the actual costs being incurred today.

There are numerous evaluations of studies, reports, budgets, and other financial information from the various states, districts, and independent groups across our country to evaluate what the impending costs are to our state. The research shows, I believe the state of South Dakota is likely facing a $51,765,424.27 cost for the implementation of CCSS. However, as many states have recognized the majority, on average 61% of the costs, are borne by the local school districts.  A letter received from the South Dakota Department of Education dated July 31, 2013, individual school districts are responsible for the “purchase [of] additional computers” and for any additional “textbooks” or supplies required for the transition. Notably, the Rapid City Area School District’s RTTT grant application allocated 45% of its funding requests for “Supplies, Technology, & Curricular Materials.” The local school districts statewide are faced with impending costs for this transition of approximately $83,130,344.66. Thus, bringing the estimated cost statewide at approximately $134 M. Of course, this does not include on going costs, such as the SBAC testing assessments at approximately $5 M per year or other ongoing costs for the districts for the maintenance, insurance, & upgrades of the technology needed to take the SBAC assessments.

HB 1243 is to  An Act to supplant the Common Core Standards.

The Roman philosopher Cicero, who said:  “We are all drawn to the pursuit of knowledge.  We desire to see, to hear, and to learn; we consider the knowledge of what is hidden or wonderful, a condition of our happiness.”

Cicero speaks of happiness as a goal of education; so did Benjamin Franklin.  Both men knew that education is itself the application of a standard.

Common Core Standards were presented as education reform, but “reform” is not the same thing as “improvement”.  I’m troubled by the fact that the Federal government used third-party trade unions like the NGA and the CCSSO to facilitate the writing of these standards, and then promoted them to the states with stimulus money as an incentive.  No Congressman or Legislator ever voted to accept them.  The NGA and the CCSSO still hold the copyright to the Common Core Standards.  How can it be good for South Dakota to adopt standards they didn’t write and don’t even own?  Where is the local control in that arrangement?

There is a growing trend to halt and reverse the Common Core Standards and for good reason.  I would rather put money in teachers’ pockets and allow them to teach children in ways that form them academically than pour it down the black hole of ever-changing technology obsolescence.

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 Week Feb. 3-7 2014

The 4th week of session ended and the final day to submit bills was Tuesday February 4th. The final tally on bills and resolutions filed is 511. In 2013 we saw 402 bills and resolutions. I expect the next few weeks will be very busy.

House Bill 1006 was up for a hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resouces Committee on Tuesday, February 4, but was tabled. A companion bill, Senate 8, was tabled by the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee. Both bills came out of the Agricultural Land Assessment Implementation and Oversight Advisory Task Force during interim meetings this summer. Currently, South Dakota agricultural land is taxed based on soil type and productivity. These are aimed at basing ag land property taxes on actual use. This bill will be back to committee in the next couple of week.’s I would like to hear from my constituents regarding this issue.

Governor Daugaard announced that he will ask federal officials to let South Dakota expand its Medicaid program in a way that would provide medical services to those most in need. He said he will support expanding eligibility only up to 100 percent of the poverty level because those above that mark can buy subidized private insurance throgh the new health care law. People earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level- about $16,000 for a single person or $33,000 for a family of four-would be covered by a full expansion. The federal government would fully cover those added to Medicaid rolls through 2016, and the state’s contribution would rise in stages to 10 percent of the costs by 2020. An expansion to 100 percent of the poverty level would cover a single person earning up to about $11,700 and a family of four earning $23,850.

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 WEEK 27-31

Week three is behind us. All our house bill drafts were due back in the LRC and final day to introduce individual bills and joint resolutions are Feb. 4th.

To date over 40 bills that have been introduced are regarding education, that is 14% of all bills introduced so far. The bills cover a broad array of topics, including Common Core Standards that I went over in my column last week. Also, we have seen bills on the use of capital outlay funds, regulation of he SD High School Activities Association, adjustments to the education formula, and requiring the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in every public school classroom at the start of the day. Much debate will occur about education issues throughout session.

The debate over Common Core continues and lobbying efforts have intensified. This week, the House defeated HB Resolution 1008 with a 31-34 vote. The resolution urged the SD Board of Education to refrain from any efforts to further expand the Common Core standards and to establish a plan to end the involvement with such current standards in 2017. The Capital filled early on Wednesday with concerned parents, grandparents, teachers and school board members from accross the state. They’re lobbying efforts were against Common Core Standards. I will be introducing 3 bills addressing the on going concerns of our educational system.

Other bills that will be coming up are as follows:
HB 1006 would provide for the assessment and taxation of agricultural land based on actual use.
HB 1068 would allow the use of dogs to hunt mountain lions in any area of the state outside the Black Hills Fire Protection district.
HB 1149 would lower the state sales and use tax on certain food items and to increase the rate of taxation for the sales and use tax on certain goods and services.
HB 1183 would repeal the death penalty.

I encourage you to look at these bills on the state web site at http://legis.sd.gov and give me your feed back.

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.