Budget, teen driving safety on legislator’s plates this weekSupporters of boxing, martial arts want supervision of activities.
By: Chet Brokaw , The Associated Press
PIERRE — The South Dakota Legislature will look at projections of state revenue that will be used to determine how much can be spent in the state budget and bills aimed at reducing traffic crashes by teen drivers.
Here are five things to know heading into the session’s eighth week:
The Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee, which includes both House and Senate members, is preparing to put together the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Economists from the governor’s budget office and the Legislature’s staff are expected this week to present estimates of how much revenue the state will collect in the remainder of this year and the next budget year.
The panel will use those estimates to determine how much money can be spent in the next budget.
The Appropriations Committee will finish work on the budget so the House and Senate can pass the spending measure by March 8, the end of the main run of this year’s legislative session.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed a $4.1 billion budget, with $1.3 billion of that to come from general state tax funds.
South Dakota lawmakers hope President Barack Obama and Congress work out some kind of federal budget deal before the state budget is passed because federal cuts will likely affect the economy and reduce the amount of federal money available for spending by the state.
As the Legislature puts together the next state budget, lawmakers face some decisions that have been delayed until they have a better idea of how much money they have to spend.
Daugaard has proposed that state aid to school districts be increased next year by 3 percent to cover inflation, but many legislators want to use any available money to give schools more money for operating costs.
And some lawmakers, particularly members of the Democratic minority, hope to amend the budget bill to allow the expansion of Medicaid so thousands more low-income people can be covered by the government health insurance program.
Republicans and Democrats also have been talking about using some money to start scholarship programs.
One proposal would award scholarships based on financial need as South Dakota is the only state in the nation without such a program. Another would give scholarships to college students who agree to teach in math, science or other critical fields after they graduate.
The House Commerce and Energy Committee is scheduled to have a hearing Monday on a bill that would create a state commission to supervise boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts competitions.
Supporters argue the commission is needed to protect the safety of athletes who take part in boxing and mixed martial arts, but Daugaard has made it clear he opposes the bill as long as it legitimizes mixed martial arts fights, which he says are so violent they don’t deserve to be called sport.
Despite the governor’s comments, the Senate voted 29-6 to pass the measure and send it to the House.
Teen driving safety
The House Transportation Committee will meet Tuesday to weigh a package of bills that would ban beginning drivers from using cellphones behind the wheel and make other changes aimed at reducing teen traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
The Senate has already passed the measures. One would prohibit all beginning drivers from using cellphones and other electronic devices until they can get an unrestricted license at age 16.
Other bills in the package would make those with learners’ permits wait longer before driving unaccompanied and would set up a coordinated drivers’ education system with statewide standards for course content, instruction, testing and certification of instructors.
A legislative rule requires bills that would have an effect on state revenues or spending to carry a fiscal note estimating how much extra revenue or spending it would generate.
Lawmakers sometimes use the rule in an effort to kill bills by requesting that a fiscal note be prepared. If one-fifth of a chamber’s members agree, a vote on the bill is delayed until the Legislature’s staff produces an estimate.
That was the case last week with a bill that would provide prenatal care for illegal immigrants.
The House passed the bill after the fiscal note predicted it would cost about $242,000 in state funds and $286,000 in federal funds to provide the care through Medicaid next year.More from around the web