Legislative Report Feb. 9, 2017
As of 2/9/2017 388 bills have been introduced. 177 bills introduced in the Senate and 211 in the House. At the point in 2016, 418 were filled and in 2015, 429 bills were filed.
SB 172 authorizing the South Dakota Building Authority to provide for the construction of and improvements to the State Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic laboratory and infrastructure at the South Dakota State University and declare and emergency. SB 172 was referred to the Joint Committee on Appropriations on 2/2/17. I have a real problem with this legislation. The Governor wants to appropriate $5 million from general funds and use the bonding authority to further the project. The total cost projects are some where in the neighborhood off $56 million. The language makes reference to increasing and establishing certain agricultural fees and to transfer certain funds to pay for the project. South Dakota Building Authority has increased the bonding authority by $202 million in four years. I’m very concerned about the fee put on agriculture and would like to see the pharmaceutical companies get some skin in the game. As the bill stands now I can’t support this legislation.
On Monday I will introduce HB 1192 to increase the period of time certain persons may contract with the state after termination of service. This legislation is trying to address the problems that arose following Gear-Up. Following is example of “Conflict of Interest.” Don Kirkegaard is currently the President of the SD Board of Education. He was appointed to the Board in December of 2006. Mr. Kirkegaard previously served as Superintendent of the Britton-Hecla School District. He currently serves as the Superintendent of the Meade County School District. At the time he was a partner in Sioux Falls-based Dakota Education Consulting (with former Secretaries of the SD Department of Education Rick Melmer and Tom Oster) Dakota Education Consulting, on its web site, listed its clients as the Britton-Hecla School District, Meade County School District and the SD Department of Education. $62 million came through the Gear-Up grant. The intent of the grant was to increase graduation rates among Native American students. To date there’s no data to tell us if there was an increase in graduation rates.
HB 1079 is An Act to clarify certain provisions regarding municipal assessments and the collection of delinquent fees by the county. This is another unfunded mandate on our county treasurer. In essences this bill would require treasurer office to access delinquent utility bills to tax bills. If this is treated the same way that the tax certificates are then we will be selling peoples properties for unpaid utility bills. These bills are not improvements to the land and should not be treated as such. A new sewer line would already be an improvement and the City would be able to collect this on the property taxes because it is indeed a true special assessment for infrastructure improvements. If the county takes tax deed to the property for nonpayment of taxes all outstanding amounts due would be cancelled except for the special assessment, which are true infrastructure improvements. Adding these bills to the taxes could prevent the county from selling the property at a tax auction, which in turn stops the property from being sold and added back onto the tax rolls. If we allow this legislation collection on utilities for the city it will only be a matter of time before the electric companies and the gas companies will want to put in legislation for their collection too.
Finally some “Food for thought” Last year an independent overview on the state budget was brought to light. Between 2000 and 2014 school funding increased by 28% while state government increased by 95% (almost double.) The state budget grew 3.4 times faster than school funding and exceeded inflation by 42%. Three things to keep in mind: 1.) The state budget nearly doubled despite a 10% across the board cut to the budget in 2011; 2.) $100 million in tax and fee increases during 2015 are not included in the numbers; 3.) The ½ cent sales tax passed in 2016 over $100 million for teacher pay is also not included in the numbers.
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 Elizabeth.May@sdlegislature.gov 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 legislators.