The fourth week of the 92nd legislative session is complete, and the deadline for filling bills has passed. There are approximately 390 bills introduced, therefore, the committee bill load will become active to moves these pieces of legislation through the process.
In the Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee, we have only taken a few bills regarding hunting and fishing licenses. The bills address a landowner’s right to utilize a ‘landowner deer tag’ in a way of his/her choice, and to a landowner, who has a stocked body of water with fish on his own land and fully stocked by himself, to take an unlimited number of fish. The hunting and fishing lobbies have argued that these measures would further commercialize hunting. While we have not heard the bills on the House floor, there will be friendly amendments to take care of the concerns of the opponents. Stay tuned.
In House State Affairs, the committee has head bills that seek to enhance South Dakota’s concealed carry laws. These bills seek to make the process for renewal more streamlined and have received favorable votes from the committee. The committee will once again hear a bill to allow individuals who have an enhanced permit to carry a concealed weapon, to carry such in the State Capitol. This bill does not have the support of law enforcement, as allowing such may put officers in precarious situations when confronting someone who carries a weapon. These officers will be required to ascertain in a matter of seconds who is acting in a criminal manner and who is not. This is clearly dangerous, and will certainly be a bill that will get significant discussion and debate.
The House floor sessions have picked up with bills addressing nursing home beds. HB 1003 received significant debate, as it would allow for the sale or transfer of nursing home beds throughout the system. This bill received very few votes, as the SD Department of Health has a very clear and definitive process for helping nursing homes that require additional beds. Selling the beds will put our rural nursing homes at an extreme disadvantage, as they clearly do not have the funds to purchase such. We all want to be able to keep our loved ones close to us when they are in need of skilled nursing care in a home setting as they near the end of their lives.In my opinion, it was good to vote this bill down and to allow our nursing homes to work with the Department of Health to fulfill their needs.
With the final passage of HB 1069 and with the Governor’s signature on the bill, the legislature must put its words into action. We will be taking up several bills to address the lobbying concerns, the accountability of state government, and the ethics surrounding campaign finance. We should have taken these bills up prior to the repeal of IM 22, and then consider the repeal. We must make sure that any bills brought forth attempt to meet the expectations of IM 22 and answer the concerns of the citizenry as they perceived the ballot measure.
The Joint Appropriations committee continues to meet each day and files through the departments and agency budgets. During conversations with the Bureau of Finance and Management, the revenues appear to be lower than the executive branch had anticipated. Leadership will receive the revenue estimates within the next week and will have a clearer vision as to how the FY 18 budget will shape up.
On February 11th, your District 21 legislators will hold their first cracker barrel at the following locations and times: 8:00 a.m. At the Statewide Ag Insurance building in Winner; 10:00 a.m. At the Gregory Bowling Lanes in Gregory; and at 1:00 p.m. At the Pizza Ranch in Platte. I encourage all who have concerns to please join us for conversation about the legislature.
Our second Cracker Barrel will be held in the east end of the district on February 25th. Be sure to watch the next two weeks columns for locations and times.
As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns about legislation. I may be reached at Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 605-222-3378. Thank you for the opportunity to represent everyone in District 21. Have a great week!