PIERRE — The components of Gov. Dennis Daugaard's K-12 school funding plan received their bill numbers Tuesday. The half-cent increase in the state sales tax to 4.5 percent is HB 1182. The House Appropriations Committee is its sponsor. The Senate Appropriations Committee is sponsoring his three other bills on school funding. SB 131 sets a teacher target salary of $48,500 and establishes a teacher-students ratio for funding that would replace the per-student allocation used the past 20 years.
PIERRE — Some state legislators want formal ways to block international refugees from coming to South Dakota. Lawmakers in the coming weeks will consider two measures offered primarily by Republicans. One would establish a state office of refugees in the state Department of Social Services, allow individual communities to request they be closed to refugees one year at a time and let the governor declare a statewide moratorium on accepting refugees.
PIERRE — Some state lawmakers are pushing the South Dakota High School Activities Association in different directions this legislative session. Committee hearings on two of the proposals are set for later this week. The organization came under scrutiny during the past few years, first because of complaints in 2013 that its leaders didn't adequately share information with member schools — that's been corrected through an open-meetings law change — and then because of a transgender participation policy adopted in 2014.
PIERRE — Money doesn't guarantee votes, but the 2015 fundraising numbers said something Monday about the 2018 contest for the Republican nomination for governor. State Rep. George Mark Mickelson, of Sioux Falls, raised three times more money, and in less time, than state Attorney General Marty Jackley, of Pierre, did last year. The 2015 campaign finance report filed for Mickelson's political action committee Monday showed an ending balance of $558,641.79. The PAC received $583,244.05 in income and spent $24,602.26 from its Aug. 27, 2015, start through Dec. 31.
PIERRE — In my professional lifetime there have been big changes at the Legislature. Smoking is banned in the Capitol. Drunkenness isn't tolerated. Legislators overall behave more professionally, thanks to Internet simulcasts digitally archived. We're in a time of another big change: The rise of the handgun. Turn on your imagination lamp for a moment. Look ahead a few years. See three or four legislators gathered in the House or the Senate, showing around one of their handguns.
PIERRE—Two weeks from now, the South Dakota Supreme Court looks at whether state Attorney General Marty Jackley performed his duty on a ballot measure explanation. The dispute is over 13 words that Jackley left out of his explanation: "The initiated measure, if adopted, will eliminate short-term loans in South Dakota." Bringing the challenge are lawyers from Rapid City and Kansas City, Missouri, for Erin Ageton. She works for a Georgia-based company that is in the payday lending business and wants the 13 words added to Jackley's explanation.
PIERRE—Legislators didn't ask any questions Thursday during a hearing about removing construction restrictions for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. The measure, HB 1010, would eliminate several limits that have long been in state law but haven't been consistently observed by GF&P through the years. The legislation would repeal: *A $1,500 limit on improvements that could be made on short-term leased property anywhere in South Dakota, unless the state government or the federal government owns the land.
PIERRE—Many members of the Legislature wanted their budget panel to do its work at a much faster pace this session. Republicans Sen. Deb Peters, of Hartford, and Rep. Justin Cronin, of Gettysburg, are the co-chairmen for the Joint Committee on Appropriations. They and the 16 other appropriators are fulfilling that goal. Peters said Thursday the committee would be done with its hearing schedule for state departments, agencies and constitutional offices on Feb. 5. That is working day 16 of the 38-day session.
PIERRE — The stretch of U.S. 12 west of Aberdeen is under a safety review that will include a public meeting at some point in the future, state Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said Thursday. He told members of the state Transportation Commissioner there have been suggestions from some area residents for a longer segment of divided four-lane highway. Bergquist said he couldn't recall another issue where his department received so many letters from the public in recent times. Many factors contribute to crashes including alcohol and distracted driving.
PIERRE—The state House of Representatives could consider today (Thursday) whether to officially designate the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota at Hill City as — what else? — the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota. Official status doesn't bring any state funding. In fact, the legislation specifically says the museum won't receive any for operation or maintenance. But the designation would do what Peggy Sanders of Hill City thought had been already done long ago.