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Vehle to chair study legislative panel on highways

PIERRE -- Two experienced lawmakers will lead the interim committees this summer.

The Legislature's Executive Board selected Sen. Mike Vehle as chairman for the 15-member committee that will analyze South Dakota's highway needs and financing.

Part of the highway panel's work is determining the impact of the 2011 and 2013 increases in license plate fees.

The board chose Rep. Roger Solum to head the study of South Dakota's laws regarding shipping and distribution of alcoholic beverages.

Solum, R-Watertown, will be chairman of the nine-member panel.

The study comes in the wake of a long battle during the 2014 session that saw the defeat of legislation that would have allowed interstate shipments of wine.

The two committees will hold several meetings during the summer and fall, then file reports on their work and make recommendations on legislation to the Executive Board.

The findings of the panels likely will be the foundation for work on the two topics during the 2015 legislative session.

Vehle, in his role as Senate Transportation Committee chairman, has been the champion for better funding of highway projects during legislative sessions. He is serving his tenth year in the Legislature and is seeking re-election to a fourth two-year term in the Senate.

The highway interim committee's Senate members are Bob Ewing, R-Sioux Falls; Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton; David Omdahl, R-Sioux Falls; Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings; Chuck Welke, D-Warner; and Jim White, R-Huron.

Its House members are David Anderson, R-Hudson; Gary Cammack, R-Union Center; Mary Duvall, R-Pierre; Scott Parsley, D-Madison; Jim Peterson, D-Revillo; Jim Schaefer, R-Kennebec; Mike Verchio, R-Hill City; and Dick Werner, R-Huron.

Duvall, who is in her second year in the House and is seeking re-election, was chosen to be vice-chair.

The alcohol study's vice-chairman is Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg. He was prime sponsor of the wine-shipment legislation, SB 114.

Brown's bill made it through the Senate 23-11, after much parliamentary maneuvering. But the House Commerce and Energy Committee later killed it 10-3 after a series of amendments.

Solum was chairman of the House committee. He is serving his sixth year in the House and is running for re-election to a fourth two-year term. Brown is the Senate's president pro tem, serving his sixth year in the Senate and seeking re-election to a fourth two-year term.

Other members of the alcohol interim committee are senators Ryan Maher, R-Isabel; Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City; and Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge; and House members Brock Greenfield, R-Clark; Troy Heinert, D-Mission; Timothy Johns, R-Lead; and Tim Rounds, R-Pierre.