Legislative Week 8

March 3, 2017

 

Well we’re on the home stretch for 2017. The session has been like none I’ve experienced in the last 5 years. Most of the session was consumed with replacing IM22.  The legislation dealing with the SD Dept. of Education and “Conflicts of Interest” did not specifically get addressed in legislation, but I’m hoping HB1076 establishing a “State Accountability” board will have some impact with concerns going forward.

HCR 1010 was brought in front the House Education Committee this week. The resolution addressed certain concerns about  SD Dept. of Education belonging to outside organizations. Concerned citizens want disclosure statements on any outside entities that the department is associated with.  Following are examples of concerns brought forward by www.sdcitizensforliberty.com a nonprofit organization.

The officials of the SD DOE and other state education organizations who testify on education issues are not unbiased. They have conflicting interests because they populate the boards of various organizations that benefit directly from South Dakota keeping the Common Core standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  The DOE should or at least required full disclosure of their conflicts of interest.  Consider the following:

-SD Secretary of Education, Dr. Melody Schopp, formerly served on the Executive Board of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which holds a multi-million dollar contract with the state to develop and administer formative, interim, and summative tests to all children in South Dakota public schools. Dr. Schopp is currently the president of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), an organization that is co-owner, along with the National Governor’s Association, of the copyright for the Common Core State Standards.  It was in the best interest of the CCSSO to keep South Dakota married to these standards.

- Sarah Lutz testified as a teacher who loves Common Core.  She was South Dakota’s ‘Teacher of the Year’.  This is a CCSSO program that gives a cash award to teachers who exemplify the ideals of Common Core.  She was rewarded $12,300 in cash and prizes.

-  Paul Turman testified as a representative of the SD Board of Regents.  He dramatically “dropped his BOR badge” and went on to testify as a member of the Pierre School Board.  He forgot to mention that he also serves on the Smarter Balanced Consortium governing committee as the Higher Education Lead.

Other SD Department of Education officials who often testify before the Education Committees who serve other entities:

- Abby Javurek-Humig, Director of the SD DOE Division of Assessment and Accountability, is also the Chair-elect of the Executive Board of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

- Jan Martin, SD DOE Administrator of Assessment, also serves on the Smarter Balanced Consortium governing committee with Paul Turman on K-12.

After little to no discussion the resolution was sent to the 41st day (meaning it died in committee process). To date the State of South Dakota has paid about $858,000 in membership dues just to belong to Smarter Balance Consortium and CCSSO.

SB 125 will come before the House this week. The bill would revise the list of organizations that would be approved through the accreditation process for nonpublic school to participate in interscholastic activities. Currently nonpublic schools that are approved by the Secretary of Education are North Central Association Commission, Association of Christian Schools International, Association of Classical Christian Schools, National Lutheran School Accreditation and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod School. Oceti Sakowin or COSA is seeking approval to be added to the accreditation list. Concerns surrounding Gear-Up and the $16.5 million in grant money that went through Mid Central in the last decade have some committee members concerned.

Oceti Sakowin Education Consortium was in charge for six years and handled nearly $6 million in grant money. The American Institute for Indian Innovation took over five years ago handling  $10.7 million in grant money. It turns out both nonprofit foundations were started by Scott Westerhuis (Mid-Central) who accepted millions in GEAR UP money. The concerns surrounding grant money distributed by Mid Central going to OSEC or Oceti Sakowin Educational Consortium overlapped during the same time grant money was going to American Indian Institute for Innovation or AIII.

Absent the Auditor General’s long audit process to determine where the $62 million went under the shell corporations formed by Scott Westerhuis I doubt this legislation will move forward.

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.

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Legislative Week 7 February 24,2017

There is an old saying that “’Close counts’ in horseshoes, dancing, and grenades.” It also counts—for a lot of money—in the world of public education in South Dakota.

This week I brought legislation (HB1192) to the Judiciary Committee for consideration to address the ongoing “Conflicts Of Interest.” Unfortunately this legislation was killed due to other legislation related to establishing “State Accountability Board.” I want to share the information that I brought forward during the committee process to show the problem associated with “Close Relationships” within government.

During Spring Semester 2016, students at the University of South Dakota created a giant wall-sized map depicting the GEAR UP grant in South Dakota. The administration of the GEAR UP grant has been characterized from its 2005 beginning by especially close relationships. Some people believe these close relationships are not only beneficial but also necessary in a small state like South Dakota. Other people believe that some of these relationships are conflicts of interest that are illegal, unethical, or both.

Gear Up Pin Map (Click to view)

Since last spring, the USD students have shown their map and given a related factual presentation to 29 different visitors, including both the prosecution and defense in criminal cases and the plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases. The students derived all the information on their map from public sources. Their map reveals the following close relationships:

Kelly Duncan was appointed to the SD Board of Education in 1996. Her term expired on December 31, 2017. Her picture is no longer on the web site of the SD Board of Education, so we do not know if she is still a member of the Board. During 2006-2015, Duncan held various positions within the School of Education at the University of South Dakota. During part of that time, (2008-2012) the Dean of the USD School of Education was Rick Melmer. In June of 2012, Duncan started Dakota Plains Consulting in Vermillion. Mid-Central Educational Cooperative (MCEC) in Platte, SD, paid Duncan to manage the federally funded College Access Challenge Grant, the purpose of which is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. The federal government awarded the grant to the SD Office of Indian Education in 2008 and renewed the grant in 2010. In November of 2015, Angela Kennecke of KELOland News reported that during the past three years, Duncan had received $124,000 in contracts from the SD Department of Education. All of those contracts were below the state’s limit for required competitive bidding. In June of 2015, Duncan became the Dean of the School of Education at Northern State University in Aberdeen, and she moved her Dakota Plains Consulting from Vermillion to Aberdeen. Even though she accepted money from MCEC to manage the College Access Challenge Grant, she also accepted money from the Government Research Bureau at the University of South Dakota to be an “independent evaluator” of the GEAR UP grant at MCEC—all while serving on the SD Board of Education.

Julie Mathiesen was appointed to the SD Board of Education in 2011. She resigned from the Board in June of 2016. During the time Mathiesen was a member of the Board, she was also a Director at Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE) in Rapid City, SD. During the time Mathiesen was a member of the Board, she was, according to the SD Department of Education, also the Superintendent of Three Rivers Special Services Cooperative in Philip, SD. A Schoenfish & Company audit of Three Rivers for the year ended June 20, 2015, reported, “A material weakness in internal controls was noted due to a lack of proper segregation of duties for revenues. This finding was first noted in 1992.” In January of 2016, Angela Kennecke of KELOland News reported that during 2014 and 2015, in her leadership roles with TIE and Three Rivers, Mathiesen signed nearly $2 million of contracts with the SD Department of Education.

Stacy Phelps was appointed to the SD Board of Education in 2008. He resigned from the Board in October of 2015. While Phelps was a member of the Board, he simultaneously held several positions associated with the GEAR UP grant from the SD Department of Education. He was the Program Director of the GEAR UP grant for Mid-Central Educational Cooperative. He was also the CEO of the American Indian Institute for Innovation (AIII), which received hundreds of thousands of dollars in GEAR UP funding from MCEC, which received the funding from the SD Department of Education. AIII was one of seven corporations created by Scott Westerhuis, who was simultaneously the Business Manager of MCEC and the Chief Financial Officer of AIII. Scott Westerhuis also created Oceti Sakowin Education Consortium, which a 2015 Eide Bailly audit showed was the recipient of at least $171,000 of GEAR UP funds. The Registered Agent of Oceti Sakowin was Scott Westerhuis, and the Business Manager was Nicole Westerhuis, who was also the Assistant Business Manager of MCEC. A Dana Ferguson story in the January 13, 2016, Argus Leader reported that on a recent South Dakota Public Radio “Dakota Midday” program, Governor Dennis Daugaard had said in reference to the interlocking memberships in MCEC and Oceti Sakowin, “That’s ridiculous. That’s a conflict of interest.” Phelps was also the President of Blackrock Consulting, another Scott Westerhuis corporation, in which Scott Westerhuis was the Vice-President and Nicole Westerhuis was the Secretary. Phelps was also the Director of the GEAR UP summer camp in Rapid City. On February 10, 2016, Angela Kennecke of KELOland News reported that as Camp Director, Phelps had hired 10 of his family members. An MCEC-commissioned audit revealed that during a two-year period, the 10 Phelps family members received $386,000 in salaries, benefits, and expenses. An 11th Phelps family member has been on AIII’s payroll for $90,000 per year as the Principal of a school run by AIII, for which she is also an Administrative Coordinator. In March of 2016, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced that he had charged Stacy Phelps with two felony counts of falsifying evidence and two felony counts of conspiracy to offer forged or fraudulent evidence.

Rick Melmer was the Secretary of the SD Department of Education from 2003 to 2008. In 2005, he helped secure the original GEAR UP grant for SD. (The grant was renewed in 2011 and extended through 2017.) He was the Dean of the University of South Dakota College of Education from 2008 to 2013. He became a consultant for the US Bureau of Indian Education in 2010, when he was Dean of the School of Education at USD. He organized Dakota Education Consulting in 2013; the business’s web site listed Melmer’s address as Delzell Hall at USD. He became a consultant for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in 2013. He started RVM Consulting in Sioux Falls in 2015. He founded Leadership South Dakota in 2015. Melmer started receiving $1,000 monthly payments from MCEC in 2012, a year when Melmer was on MCEC’s Advisory Board, on the SD Department of Education’s Oversight Board for Native American Education, and was the Dean of the School of Education at USD. A Bob Mercer story in the May 19, 2015, Pierre Capital Journal reported that the SD Department of Legislative Audit’s audit of the administration of the GEAR UP grant for FY2014 found that Melmer and former SD Office of Indian Education Director Keith Moore had been paid $32,000 by MCEC for several months, even though neither had submitted effort logs showing what they had been working on. In July of 2013, MCEC contracted to pay Melmer $185,000 to be a Senior Advisor over the next 12 months. On April 23, 2014, MCEC contracted to pay Melmer $223,250 in 12 monthly payments of $18,604.17 each to be a Senior Advisor. The contract also gave Melmer 12 days of vacation leave, 15 days of sick leave, two days of personal leave, state rates for mileage, and full single health and dental insurance. (In a September 28, 2015, interview with KELOland’s Angela Kennecke, Melmer said that only a third of his salary was paid for with GEAR UP money.) On July 10, 2014, the MCEC Board of Directors approved a contract with the SD Board of Regents for “Rick Melmer Services” for $49,500, which was $500 below the limit for competitive bidding.

Keith Moore was Director of the SD Office of Indian Education within the SD Department of Education from 2005 to 2009. He was Chief Diversity Officer for the University of SD from 2009 to 2010. From May 2010 to June 2012, he was the Director of the Bureau of Indian Education for the US Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC. He became the State Director of the SD Fellowship of Christian Athletes in July of 2012. He also served briefly as the Interim Director of the SD Office of Indian Education beginning in June of 2013. The August 24, 2015 Rapid City Journal reported, “Moore became chief diversity officer at USD in 2009 and was appointed as the director for the federal Bureau of Indian Education in 2010. He left the agency in 2012 amid an investigation into a contract matter that also involved Melmer and Moore’s chief of staff at the federal agency, Brian Drapeaux. Moore and Drapeaux tried a steer a contract to review the bureau to a Pierre business, Personal Group. Drapeaux had worked for the business immediately prior to joining Moore at the federal agency. The contract was initially blocked because of a federal requirement for a one-year break of service between a federal employee and a potential contractor. The contract eventually went to a business subsidiary for the Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska. That company, All-Native, Inc., then sub-contracted with Personal Group and Melmer. The inspector general’s 15-page report concluded Moore and Drapeaux ‘appear to have acted in violation of Federal ethics regulations governing impartiality…and the use of public office for private gain.’” A 2015 Eide Bailly forensic audit of MCEC revealed that from October of 2013 through August of 2015, MCEC paid Moore $99,767.97 while Moore was leading the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Tom Oster served as Secretary of the SD Department of Education from 2008 to 2011. He served as Superintendent of the Sioux Valley School District in Volga, SD, from 2011 to 2016. He is Co-Director of Dakota Education Consulting with former SD Education Secretary Rick Melmer and a Co-Director of Leadership South Dakota with Melmer. In 2011, he started Oster Consulting in Volga, which in 2016 moved to Sioux Falls. In 2016, the Sioux Valley School District hired Oster Consulting to conduct the search to replace Oster.

Don Kirkegaard is currently the President of the SD Board of Education. He was appointed to the Board in December 2006. 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, the Meade County School District, and the SD Department of Education.
The officials of the SD DOE and other state education organizations who testify on education issues are not unbiased. They have conflicting interests because they populate the boards of various organizations that benefit directly from South Dakota keeping Common Core standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Consider the following: – SD Secretary of Education, Dr. Melody Schopp, formerly served on the Executive Board of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which holds a multi-million dollar contract with the state to develop and administer formative, interim, and summative tests to all children in South Dakota public schools. Dr. Schopp is currently the president of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), an organization which is co-owner, along with the National Governor’s Association, of the copyright for the CCSS. It was in the best interest of the CCSSO to keep South Dakota married to these standards.
- Sarah Lutz was South Dakota’s ‘Teacher of the Year’. This is a CCSSO program that gives a cash award to teachers who exemplify the ideals of Common Core.
- Paul Turman is a representative of the SD Board of Regents and also serves on the Smarter Balanced Consortium governing committee as the Higher Education.

Other SD Department of Education officials who often testify before the Education Committees who serve other entities:
- Abby Javurek-Humig, Director of the SD DOE Division of Assessment and Accountability, is the Chair-elect of the Executive Board of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Jan Martin, SD DOE Administrator of Assessment, also serves on the Smarter Balanced Consortium governing committee with Paul Turman for K-12.

Conclusion: Since 2005, the State of South Dakota has spent almost $62 million in state and federal money and resources in an attempt to help Native American children go to college, and no one anywhere has come forward with credible evidence of how many young people went to college because of our expenditure of that $62 million.

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.

Legislative Week 6 Feb. 16, 2017

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States said, “Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government; the history of government is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government, not the increase of it.” As we approach the conclusion of session, I think it’s important for legislators to keep this in mind.

Rep. Livermont, Senator Killer and I were honored to have the US Government Classes from Bennett Co. and Kadoka Schools at the Capitol this week. It’s refreshing to have young people come and see first hand the importance of learning and understanding our form of government. The students were prepared with questions of pending legislation for us. I applaud their teachers, Mandi Smokov and Dave Ohrtman, for bringing the students prepared. I also want to note how impressed I was with the attention given to their attire and manners. With all the negative news regarding our young people, I can say Bennett Co. and Kadoka citizens can be proud of these kids.

In 2014, the “Extraordinary Litigation Fund” was established. Under this section, the State Treasury created a sub fund. The fund is maintained separately and administered by the Bureau of Administration. The fund may be used for plaintiff attorney fees, retention of outside counsel, settlement costs, or other litigation expenses. This past week, the legislators approved $7,994,202 on settled or closed cases. The cases range from March of 2006 to August of 2016. Currently there are six open cases.

Tobacco #1- Challenging the MSA requirements and the escrow account requirements applicable to non-participating tobacco product manufacturers.
Tobacco #4- Challenging the 2004 Tobacco Diligent Enforcement Proceeding, which places the State’s annual tobacco payments from the Participating Manufactures under the “Master Settlement Agreement.” They expect an evidentiary hearing sometime in 2017.
Planned Parenthood-Challenging the 2011-abortion legislation. A number of depositions have been scheduled and a trial date may be possible in 2017.
EECO/Goodman- filed a discrimination charge on November of 2011. He alleges that he was not hired for an Employment Specialist Position.
Oglala/Rosebud Tribes- are challenging the State’s procedures in emergency removal hearings, claiming violations of constitutional rights and of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
LP6, LLC-The plaintiff brings this action to redress the alleged fraud by defendants by which members were unlawfully solicited to invest in providing financing for a project undertaken by Northern Beef Packers Limited Partnership to build, develop and operate a beef processing plant in South Dakota (The PROJECT). This is in regards to the EB-5 Program which facilitates foreign investment in certain communities in the US for projects that will benefit those communities by creating jobs. Under the program, in exchange for making approved investments, the foreign investors and their immediate families are granted conditional lawful permanent resident status, which can become unconditional after 2 years. LP6 claims $18 million aggregated loss in investments.

I’ll leave you with this quote, “Where there is a rift in the lute, the business of the lawyer is to widen the rift and gather the loot.”

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.

Legislative Week 5

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.

Legislative Week 4 2017

Legislative Week 4 Feb. 2, 2017

Week four was somewhat busier than the weeks before, but still nothing like it has been in the past.

HB 1069 was heard in the Senate this week. After a lengthy debate, it passed off the floor and was signed into law by the Governor. HB1069 was a complete repeal of IM22. At last count, there were 27 bills introduced to replace concerns to IM22. Due to threats made on legislators and family members, countless law enforcement agencies along with canine units covered every floor of the capital. I turned my focus on the young pages serving during session. Part of their duty is to answer incoming phone calls. Because of inappropriate language and threats to legislators, the Page Staff had to suspend the practice. I understand citizen’s compassion on particular issues, but what I don’t understand is utter disregard for civility. We’re Citizen Legislators, meaning we campaign on our own time and our own money. Our yearly salary is $6000.00 and we’re paid 5 cents a mile. We’re not subsidized by the State with funds that would cripple our State economy. Taking 8% from the State Budget to create “Democracy Credits” will do nothing but take away from other important matters such as Education, Law Enforcement, and Infrastructure; not mention it’s unconstitutional. This session has been burdened with the task of taking out and fixing IM22 which could be better served spending time looking at ways to invest our State’s time and money. I encourage everyone to contact me with concerns regarding IM22, but I encourage you, base the conversation on “Facts” not “Emotions.”
Following is a list of bills you can review dealing with Elections/Public Officials/Ethics Reform and Transparency.
HB 1034, HB1035, HB1036, HB1073, HB1074, HB1076, HB1089, HB1128, HB1130, SB27, SB53, SB54, SB59, SB67, SB77, SB116, SJR2.

http://sdlegislature.gov/Legislative_Session/Bills/default.aspx?Session=2017

Due to the time spent on IM22, not much else moved forward. I do want to bring attention to SB135. COOL or “Country of Origin Labeling” is back again this year. SB135 would repeal South Dakota’s existing law that says anyone who knowingly sells meat from a foreign country must post a SIGN indicating the country of origin. It would be replaced with a provision requiring retailers who sell beef and ground beef to LABEL IT with the country of origin. If the origin can’t be determined, the product would have to be labeled as “unknown” or “Country of origin unknown.” The measure includes an exemption for prepared foods for immediate sale or ready to eat. If you support “Country of Origin Labeling” I strongly encourage you to contact the committee members on State Affairs to encourage them to support the legislation. Following is the link for members on State Affairs. http://sdlegislature.gov/Legislative_Session/Committees/CommitteeMembers.aspx?Committee=356&Session=2017

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.

Legislative Week 3

Legislative Week 3 January 26, 2017

It was my honor this week to carry SCR 5 in the House endorsing the induction of Howard Hunter Sr. into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. I encourage everyone to read the full Resolution. The last paragraph of the resolution sums up Howard’s life.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, due to his talent, superb skill, and integrity, the induction of Howard Hunter Sr. into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame would honor a South Dakota Plains ranch lifestyle, a set of solid values, and a life well lived that are as relevant today as at any time in the history of our nation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that through the nomination of Howard Hunter, Sr., the Selection Committee of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame has the opportunity to honor one of the most talented and deserving bronc riders that ever measured a bronc rein or nodded for a gate.

http://sdlegislature.gov/Legislative_Session/Bills/Bill.aspx?File=SCR5P.htm&Session=2017

SCR2 (Senate Concurrent Resolution) supporting the Electoral College system was brought to the floor for consideration the Electoral College is a process not a place. The Electoral College was established as an essential part of the United States Constitution in 1787 Most of us have a basic understanding of how and why the Electoral College was set up, but I found it interesting to actually see the numbers. Electoral votes are allocated among the states based on the US Census. Because South Dakota is small in population are votes are twice as influential as those in larger states such as California, Texas, New York and Florida. Following is a list from greatest to least impact of single voter influence toward electoral vote. VPEV stands for, VOTERS PER ELECTORAL VOTE

SOUTH DAKOTA: 370,047 TOTAL VOTERS/3 ELECTORAL VOTES=123,349.0 VPEV
TEXAS: 8,969,226 TOTAL VOTERS/38 ELECTORAL VOTES= 236,032.3 VPEV
CALIFORNIA: 14,181,595 TOTAL VOTERS/55 ELECTORAL VOTES=257,847.2 VPEV
NEW YORK: 7,707,363 TOTAL VOTERS/29 ELECTORAL VOTES=265,771.1VPEV
FLORIDA: 9,420,039 TOTAL VOTERS/29 ELECTORAL VOTES= 324,828.9 VPEV

As you can see, South Dakota had a greater impact per single vote than did the other four largest states. So when you’re told, “Every vote counts” this is something to keep in mind. There have been efforts made to eliminate the Electoral College in recent years by seeking to persuade states to mandate that electors may only vote for the winner of the popular vote nationally. South Dakota and other states with small populations would be at disadvantage to have our voices heard.

I have more information available to report on IM22. It was brought to our attention that an on July 29, 2015 the South Dakota Research Council informed the drafters of IM22 there were two unconstitutional provisions. Following are the Sections of IM 22 that are in question regarding the constitutionality of the initiated measure passed by the voters.

Sections 39 and 40 on page 35 provide an appropriation to the “Democracy Credit Fund.” SD Constitution. Art. XII, 2 states that appropriations shall be made by separate bills, each embracing one object, and requires a two-thirds vote of all the members of each branch of the Legislature. The proposed annual appropriation may be unconstitutional.

Section 68 of Initiated Measure 22: There is hereby appropriated from the general fund on July 1, 2017, and every July first of each year thereafter, the sum of nine dollars, to be adjusted every year for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index for the Midwest Region. All items, as determined by the United States Department of Labor, per South Dakota registered voter as most recently determined by the Secretary of State, to the democracy credit fund for the identified purposes of that fund.

Despite the constitutional defect(s), the drafters chose to include the unconstitutional provision in the final version of IM22 that was filed with the Secretary Of State. The supporters of IM22 claim voters knew what they were voting for. How many voters took the time to read 14,000-word ballot measure?

Following is the link to read the Pros and Cons given to you at the ballot box.

https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/assets/2016%20BQ%20PamphletCover.pdf

The next link will take you to the IM22 complete 34-page ballot measure.

https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/assets/2016_IM_CampFinLobbyingLaws.pdf

The Senate invoked Rule 517 on Thursday to allow more time to discuss HB1069 to repeal IM22. Rule 517 can be used twice on the same bill and I suspect they will inevitability use it again next week to allow for even more time. This piece of legislation will be delayed at least through next week, which will allow both sides to find the language necessary that will satisfy both sides.

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.

Legislative Week 2 January 20, 2017

Well the legislature has completed the second week of session. The weather conditions cooperated better making the trip back and forth more enjoyable.

So far, 124 Bills have been introduced for the 2017 session, 64 in the Senate and 60 in the House.

Most of the session so far has focused on addressing the unconstitutionality of IM 22.  Well over $5 million would be appropriated every year to pay for political campaigns. Also, the law could potentially prohibit teachers, nurses, business owners and others from serving in the legislature due to conflict of interests.  Over $1 million was used from out of state group to promote IM 22. The Secretary of State has introduced SB53 and SB54. SB53 would create a Campaign Finance Ethics Commission and SB54 would revise certain provisions regarding campaign finance requirements.  May concerns are not “Campaign Finance Ethics” but concerns over the lack of over sight on state agencies. Millions and millions of dollars come into the State of South Dakota every year with no Agency Ethics Commission. EB-5 and Gear Up could have been avoided if an Ethics Commission would have been in place assuring no conflicts of interest.  We have GOAC (Government Operations and Audit Committee) made up of legislators. I would like to see this expanded to include an ethics commission. We seem to have a bigger problem with Governor appointments using the experience and knowledge obtained while in government to enrich themselves off the backs of the taxpayers once they leave their position. Four years I sat on the Education Committee and not once was the committee informed on Gear Up. I look back now and guess there might have been a reason for that. I personally think South Dakotans voted for IM 22 thinking this would correct the wrongs of EB 5 and Gear Up and I haven’t seen any bill yet that addresses that concern.

SB25 has passed out of Senate Judiciary and the complete Senate. It now will make its way to House Judiciary this week. This bill would allow for “Mug Shots” to be made available to the publishing industry that is emerging across the country. The industry consists of private companies that publish mug shots and booking details of individuals arrested by law enforcement agencies. There has been over 60 new mug shot websites created in the last two years. The “Reputation Management Industry” profit when individuals pay a fee to have their mug shot removed from one or more websites.  On occasion the same company resulting in a combination “Business Model” sometimes operates the two types of businesses. It might be legal, but is close to extortion in my mind.  I still believe you’re “Innocent until proven guilty” and will work this week against SB25. I’m including a link to the House Judiciary committee members if anyone would like to weigh in on SB25. http://sdlegislature.gov/Legislative_Session/Committees/CommitteeMembers.aspx?Committee=359&Session=2017

There has not been much legislation reaching the floor this week. I expect starting next week we’ll see more bills coming out of committee and to the floor for our debate. The longest debate on floor this week was to allow hair braiding without having cosmetology license. It turns out that we still have some common sense left and passed if off the floor with only a few NO votes.

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.

January 13, 2017 Week One

The 2017 legislative session is off and running. So far, 110 bills have been introduced with 108 filled by different State Agencies.

Expected state revenues are down $31.9 million just since the Budget Address in December. Due to down turn in farm and ranch markets, low inflation, lower tourism numbers compared to records set in 2015 has resulted in less spending making consumers cautious.  Governor Daugaard announced that Amazon will voluntarily start collecting sales tax receipts on all sales made by South Dakotans starting February 1, 2017. No projection were given to the legislature on the amount they expect to take in, but it will fall short of the loss endured this past year. I take every opportunity to remind citizens, South Dakota’s number one industry is agriculture to the tune of $20 billion.  When this industry suffers so do the state’s ability to meet basic functions of government.

Our Governor reminded the legislature once again that we have a AAA bond rating from three major credit agencies. To understand the importance of AAA rating I like to use the analogy of credit cards for the average person. The higher rating received the higher limit  available to spend. There’s really no different in the states ability to use bonding authority. In the last four years the state of South Dakota has increased it’s bonding authority $202 million with a total of $1.9 billion just under the SD Building Authority. If you would like to review any of the bonding you can do so at: http://sdlegislature.gov/Reference_Materials/RequiredReports.aspx

Three goals Governor Daugaard set forth in his State of the State Address to reduce trafficking of methamphetamine before it enters South Dakoa. A state wide campaign to educate people to prevent use and help those addicted to stop using meth. Some of the new proposal to address the increase in meth usage is a change to Public Safety Improvement Act to encourage treatment/more directly targeting meth usage. Establish a short mandatory sanction of required jail time for anyone on probation or parole who fails a drug test. Also, incentativizing the effective completion of treatment. Work to propose grants to expand HOPE 24/7 probation to all counties. I’ll be actively involved in supporting legislation to require “Random” drug testing for anyone receiving state assistance. No matter the geographic’s of our state the number one concern of local, tribal, state governments and citizens is the ongoing crisis facing our communities regarding “The meth epidemic.”

On Thursday, January 12th, Chairman Robert Flying Hawk delivered the State of the Tribes address. He called for continued efforts for unity between local, state and tribal governments to address the challenges facing the reservations by methamphetamine addiction and also the rise in heroin use.

I’ve been assigned to Transportation and Commerce/Energy committees.

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.

 

 

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.

LEGISLATIVE WEEK OF JANUARY 20-24

You are going to be hearing alot about Common Core State Standards in the coming weeks. I think it’s important to give you background on the history of our educational system for that last 125 years.

In the 1950’s the most important elected official for most families was the school board member. The school board voted on issues that really mattered. Over time that changed. One of the initiatives in The War on Poverty was The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1964. As money moved from Washington, D.C. to the local school systems, mandates followed. Ultimately federal mandates diluted the decision-making role of the local school board. As the influence of school board members declined the parents stayed home.

The local school board had a remarkably good record over many years. From 1890 to 1960 scores on standardized tests improved in every decade. Scores peaked in 1964, the year the federal government got involved, and have not increased since then. Reading scores today are lower than they have been in 40 years. The original Education Act and every update since 1964 have contained explicit language proscribing any establishment of a national curriculum. There is an effort today to impose a larger role for the national government through Common Core, a program to get states to adopt a set of national goals and standards.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an education initiative that details what K-12 students should know at the end of each grade. The intiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and seeks to establish consistent eduction standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter two or four year college programs or enter the workforce.

Our country became a superpower on the backs of men and women who studied in one-room schoolhouses. I do not think it takes a great deal of technology or corporate and government involvement for kids to succeed. We need to rethink the Common Core and the associated high stakes testing and get back to the business of educating our children in a safe, healthy, and productive manner.

Several bills regarding Common Core were addressed in the Senate this week.

SB 64-The Senate passed SB64 with a vote of 28-6 to limit the authority of the Board of Education to adopt Common Core Standards.

SB 63- The Senate also passed SB64 with a vote of 34-0. This legislation would protect student privacy by prohibiting the collection of information not necessary for the calculation of funding for public education. (Common Core requires data collection on students, teachers and principals)

SB 62- The Senate did not pass SB 62 which would have created for a comprehensive evaluation of the Common Core State Standards. This bill received 18 yeas votes and 16 no votes, but failed to obtain a necessary 2/3rds vote because of the appropriation of funds.

Senate Bills 63-64 will now go to the House Education Committee for consideration. I will be supporting both votes in committee.

Other House Bills and House Resolutions that came before the House of Representatives this past week for passage.

I voted no on HB 1037, an act to allow the DOT to establish speed zones on certain roads. The proponents of this bill pointed out area’s in SD where speed limit signs had been posted and presumably enforcement and arrests have occurred, however they pointed out the state never had the authority to post the speed limits, so the state has been illegally enforcing laws on the public and now wanted to pass this law. Now that the law has passed, the illegal activity by the state will be hidden.

I voted no on HB 1025, Revise rules for nursing homes. This bill had over 10 fee increases. These increases in cost will be shifted to the consumer and drive up the cost of a loved one in a nursing home. Not good policy, we need to be looking at ways to lower the cost of nursing homes and health issues in general.

I voted yes on HB 1021, provide judicial review of board of regents, this will add more due process for a student under review.

I voted yes on :
HCR 1004, Recognizing Hot Springs as “The Veterans Town”.

I voted no on HCR 1002, a resolution that had idea’s I agree with and support, but singled out rural schools and implied they don’t have good teachers, also the resolution’s wording was to “open” for creation of new programs. When it comes to education we need to fund K-12 before we start finding other things to spend your money on.

I voted yes on HCR 1001, a resolution to support school districts to cooperate and share idea’s to better education.

Rep Noem reported to the legislature that 95,000 head of livestock were loss as a result of the Atlas Blizzard. I might also add that she reported that the Farm Bill is close to being passed. The Livestock Indemnity Program is included in the Farm Bill and they will be trying to raise the cap of $100,000 to $250,000 due to the huge losses the ranchers suffered.
I also brought our concerns about imports from Brazil and asked for her support in extending the comment period. She agreed to putting a request in, so if you get a chance it would be a good idea to send off a email to her regarding this important issue facing our industry.

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 Report Week 1 January 17, 2014

The 2014 legislative session is off and running. As of January 16, 2004 123 bills have been filed so far. House and Senate members are busy working between their desks and LRC.

This year South Dakota will celebrate 125 years of statehood. We have balanced our budget all those years. South Dakota has the 2nd lowest tax burden in the nation and was recently listed as the Best Run State in the nation. Once again we will work to balance the budget without raising taxes, promote an agenda of limited government and less regulation. The Governor Daugaard has recommended a balanced budget of $1,393,732,594 for FY 2015.

Some of the major issues for this session are Common Core, repealing the Death Pentaly and EB–5 program.

There will likely be legislation introduced a to limit the states ability to adopt Common Core standards. The battle over national standards and testing is ultimately a battle over who controls the content taught in every local public school in America. Ultimately, we should work to ensure that decisions are made by those closest to the students: teachers, principals, and parents.

The animal industry board will bring Senate bill 46, an act to revise provisions regarding animal welfare and to provide a felony penalty for cruelty to animals.  This bill would change from a misdemeanor to a felony. My concern, is the word malicious. Whose definition will we use when interpreting the definition. As of now I do not support changing the law to a felony. I would look forward to any comments you might have regarding this bill.

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 25-28

Well the March 8 is the last day of the 2013 legislative session, with March 25 set as Veto Day when legislators go back to Pierre to decide if we want to override any of the governors vetoes.
These bills passed the House this week:

SB 151 clarifies the maintenance responsibilities on unimproved section lines.

SB 205 put wolves on the predator list. It won’t apply to the western Dakotas until the feds remove them from the endangered species list, which they’ve promised to do this month.

SB1 Revises the provisions regarding plugging and performance bonds for oil and gas wells and to repeal the supplemental restoration bond requirement. This is another of the bills that came out of our Oil and Gas Development Committee summer study.

SB 83 designates Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day as a working holiday. I had my seatmate, Rep. Brock Greenfield, read a tribute to my brother Sam Marty, who is a decorated Vietnam veteran. There were several Vietnam Vets in the gallery for the commemoration.

SB 89 limits the liability of retail dealers in petroleum products under certain conditions. This will allow west river gas stations to legally sell 85 Octane like they’ve been doing for the last 60 years.

SB 227 will allow you to legally carry a concealed weapon on your snowmobile.

SB 6 determines whether factors affecting productivity should be applied if the actual use of agricultural land does not correspond to the soil classification standards.

SB 115 increases the commercial fertilizer inspection fee for purposes of fertilizer-related research and creates the Nutrient Research Education Council to promote such research.

SB 84 create’s the South Dakota Athletic Commission and to provide for the supervision of boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts competitions and sparring exhibitions in the state.

House Commemoration 1025 on Friday recognizing Saturday, July 27, 2013, as the National Day of the American Cowboy.

Four  bills passed out of the Senate Ag Committee this week:
HB 1083 revises the crime of rustling to include sheep and goats.
HB 1123 increases the surcharge on hunting licenses by a dollar to be used for predator control.
HB 1167 restructures the policy advisory committee for animal damage control.
HB 1168 allows local predator control districts to increase the assessments on producers for predator control if the increases are approved by a majority of the producers in the district.

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 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.

 

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.