Session passed the half way point this week and the pace is moving very quickly now. Over the past week, substantial debate focused on legislation regarding guns, abortion, death penalty, highway funding, taxes and a balanced budget amendment. Education funding is also a major topic of discussion. So far the Governor has signed 16 bills into law and an additional 16 bills are on his desk waiting for approval.
On Tuesday the House passed HB 1179 with a vote of 63-4, a bill to change the definition of a veteran so South Dakota members of the National Guard and Reserve would become classified as veterans in state law regardless of whether or not they have seen active duty. The bill does not make them eligible for federal veteran’s benefits, but it recognizes the service of many of our citizen’s to our state and nation as the National Guard plays a significant role in the defense of our country. The legislation would impact about 25,000 guardsmen and reserve members who don’t currently qualify.
On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed SB 190- an act to clarify health coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA) which is defined as the design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental modifications, using behavioral stimuli and consequences, to produce socially significant improvement in human behavior, including the use of direct observation, measurement, and functional analysis of the relationship between environment and behavior. The bill states that every policy, contract, certificate, or plan subject to the provisions of this Act shall provide coverage for applied behavior analysis for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. It also sets coverage amounts for different age groups.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed SB 1 with a vote of 26-8. Senate Bill 1 is the legislation that was originally introduced by the summer study task force chaired by Senator Vehle. The bill was amended to more closely reflect the bill introduced by Governor Daugaard (HB 1131). House Bill 1131 is scheduled for hearing in House State Affairs on Wednesday, February 18th.
This week the Senate and House killed 4 death penalty bills. The House State Affairs Committee killed two death penalty bills on Wednesday. HB 1158 would have required that a victim’s opposition to the death penalty be presented at a presentence hearing. The bill failed with a 10-2 vote. HB 1159 would have permitted South Dakotans to express opposition to the death penalty when applying for a state issued identification card. The bill failed 10-2. Senate State Affairs killed two death penalty bills on Wednesday also. SB 121 would have repealed the death penalty. The bill failed 7-2. SB 122 would have revised provisions to the death penalty including the addition of a requirement that a jury would have to find that the defendant is too dangerous to be incarcerated and is an ongoing danger to the public and the prison community. The bill failed 7-2.
So far there have been 8 gun bills addressed in committee or seen on the floors. HB 1096 would revise certain procedures for issuing a permit to carry a concealed pistol. The bill passed the House 52-5. HB 1215 would provide for an optional enhanced permit to carry a concealed pistol by enhancing reciprocity with other states. It passed House State Affairs 12-0. SB 192 would permit the sergeant-at-arms to carry concealed firearms in the state capital building under certain conditions. On Thursday, it passed Senate Judiciary 5-2. HB 1206 would authorize the concealed carry of pistols on public university campuses under certain circumstances. The bill passed House Local Government Committee Thursday with a vote of 8-5. HB 1183 would repeal the prohibition against carrying permitted concealed weapons in the state capitol building. The bill has been assigned to House Local Government Committee and has been deferred to next week. HB1205 would provide for the certification by a chief law enforcement officer of the transfer of certain firearms. The bill has been assigned to House Judiciary and scheduled for hearing on February 18. There have been two gun bills that have been killed… SB 129 would revise provisions relating to trespass associated with hunting. The bill passed Ag Committee 8-0 but failed on the Senate floor 12-21. SB 162 would permit certain legislators to carry concealed firearms in the state capitol building under certain conditions. On Thursday, it failed in Senate Judiciary with a vote of 1-6.
Some of the miscellaneous bills are: SB 57- Authorize and regulate the playing of craps, roulette, and keno within Deadwood. It passed Senate 27-7. SB 73- Improve Public Safety Regarding Juvenile Justice passed the Senate 35-0. HB 1195 – Declare void the transgender policy of the South Dakota High School Activities Association and to establish a determinant in identifying a student’s sexual identity for the purpose of participating in high school athletics. The bill passed the House 51-16. HB 1216- Repeal the limitation on the total amount or revenue payable from taxes on real property for all taxing districts, except school districts. The bill failed the House 22-46.
We have three cracker barrels this coming Saturday the 21st of February. The first is in Avon at 9:00 AM in the convenience store on the highway, next is in Wagner at 10:30 AM in Booms Restaurant and then in Lake Andes at 1:00 PM in the Community Building on Main St. I look forward to seeing many of you at these events.
Thank you again for giving me the privilege to serve you in the South Dakota House. Please feel free to contact me any time at email@example.com or my cell phone (605) 207-0406. Have a wonderful and blessed week.
Representative Lee Qualm
Chairman of House Ag and Natural Resources Committee
House Local Government Committee
State and Tribal Relations Committee