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.

 

Legislative News

1-11-13
Governor Daugaard kicked off the start of the 2013 legislative session with his State of the State Address on Tuesday. The Dow Jones weekly newspaper Barons listed South Dakota as the “Best Run State in America” this year and Gov. Daugaard addressed the good stewardship we practice in our state. Our budget is one of the healthiest in the nation because we made tough budget decisions.
The biggest problem facing us as we work on our budget this year is the federal government’s fiscal irresponsibility. Instead of dealing with the “fiscal cliff” on New Years Eve, Congress and the president delayed the debt crisis for another couple months when there will be another huge fight over raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending. The federal government’s financial woes will greatly impact South Dakota’s spending plans. In the governor’s proposed budget he left $26.5 million in anticipated revenue uncommitted over the next two years in case it’s needed if the federal funding comes up short. The legislature will likely spend most of the session under a cloud of uncertainty as we try to put together a budget without knowing how much we will have to spend.
Chief Justice David Gilbertson gave the 2013 State of the Judiciary Address on Wednesday. South Dakota spends more on our criminal justice system than most of the surrounding states and he addressed ways to deal with that. The first issue he talked about was the expansion of substance abuse courts. This year the women’s prison has 450 occupants – in 1982 there were only 32. The men’s prisons house 3,600 occupants while there were only 600 in 1980. The cost per inmate is $25,000 per year and substance abuse courts would help to reduce the number of prisoners. The success rate of rehab programs stands at 81% and due to current programs there 103 empty prison cells.
Chief Justice Gilbertson also addressed military veterans in the criminal justice system. 36% of the homeless are veterans, 76% of the homeless veterans suffer from alcohol, drug, or mental issues, and every day 18 veterans commit suicide. Thirty one states have created programs to treat these underlying issues rather then prosecution. Hopefully South Dakota can follow the lead of the other states by using what works for them.
The Chief Justice is also concerned about the decline of access to attorneys in rural areas. His three point plan to address the issue would 1)provide resources to law school grads who wish to practice in rural areas 2)develop incentives that encourage locating in rural areas and 3)create a website that brings together aging rural attorneys with law school grads.
I serve on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the Education Committee. Thursday the Ag Committee heard very interesting presentations about the devastation caused by the Pine Beetle infestation in the Black Hills and the science involved with the in situ uranium mining near Edgemont.
In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown and the call for gun control at the federal level, several bills are being written to improve safety for schools, protect Second Amendment rights and other gun legislation. Rep. Betty Olson, Rep. Scott Craig and Sen. Craig Tieszen are introducing a bill that will allow school boards to authorize certain individuals the right to carry inside a school. The proposed language is permissive, giving school boards the option to approve exceptions to gun-free zones based on certain conditions if adopted at the local level. I’ve heard reports of other gun bills in the works, but haven’t seen any of them yet. The focus on keeping our children safe and protecting our Second Amendment rights brought to mind this quote by Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Hopefully legislators in Pierre can uphold the Constitution, as we are sworn to do, and get something done to protect our citizens.
The Oil and Gas Development Committee voted to introduce eight bills to address the issues that arose at our hearings. HB 1001 that would require mineral developers to give notice to surface owners before entering the land. Sen. Sutton is the prime sponsor of SB 2 and Rep. Betty Olson of the House would provide funding for unresolved surface depredation caused by oil and gas exploration and to make an appropriation therefor.
The other Oil and Gas legislation bills are:
*HB 1002 to provide for the creation of a trust account for un-locatable mineral interest owners.
*HB 1003 to provide for mediation between mineral developers and surface owners in certain disputes over surface depredation and to provide for mediation of mineral fee disputes.
*HB 1004 to provide for the award of treble damages in certain surface depredation cases.
*HB 1005 to require certain posting of information if hydraulic fracture stimulation is performed on oil and gas wells.
*HB 1006 to revise certain provisions relating to the termination of certain mineral interests.
*SB 1 to revise the provisions regarding plugging and performance bonds for oil and gas wells and to repeal the supplemental restoration bond requirement.
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.

PUC Briefing/Governor Daugaard’s Budget Address

It was a busy day in Pierre today with the anticipation of the Gov. Daugaard’s budget address. To touch on a few of the key issues that I find concerning for all of us is the looming debt crisis that our nation is facing. With the chance of sequester we would be looking at a $29 million loss in revenue to our state. Also, our Medicaid formula for adults is going to change mostly because of more revenue generated from agriculture. From 2008-20011 the state only paid 40% of the cost while the Feds made up 60%. This was due to the recession that we were in. In 2012 our state had record growth and an unemployment rate of 4.5% compared to 7.9% nationwide. The average income in 2012 for South Dakotans was $44,000 versus $41,000 nationally. Because of the formula by 2016 we will be at a 50 – 50 share with the federal government. The state saw gains in enrollments 2008-2011 and now it seems to be leveling off with 116,000 adults enrolled in Medicaid.
I also attended the PUC briefing on issues facing our state regarding EPA regulations and the impact it is having on the price of our electricity. I for one will encourage push back from the state level on any further regulations that will cost South Dakotans higher electricity bills. The United States of America has the most clean air in the world and more regulations will only bring hardships to the very poor.
On a brighter note the Capitol is beautiful with all the Christmas trees from organizations all across the state. I found the Haakon County 4-H Leaders and Milesville 4-H Club. When I go back on the 16th I plan on looking for more local trees. I will try to take pictures so I can share them with you. As always feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. I will be meeting with the Bennett Co. Commissioners on the 19th of Dec., Jackson Co Commissioners on the 16th and this Thursday I will attend the electric coop mtg. in Rapid City.

Liz May for House!

Welcome to LizMayDistrict27.com!!!

“Hello my name is Elizabeth May, but my friends know me as Liz. I am running for the South Dakota House of Representatives in District 27.”

“My family, friends, and I have decided it was time for me to take my knowledge and experience of the community to the State Legislature.  All of my life I have been a hard worker for every community I have been a part of.”

“Whether that has been Ranching with my husband, raising two wonderful children, or deciding to open Kyle Grocery; I have not shied away from hard work. I want to bring that work ethic to Pierre to work hard for you.”

“Check out my website and get to know me a little better.  Please do not hesitant to contact me on any issues that are important to you. I hope to have your support in this upcoming November.”

Thank You,

Liz May