PIERRE—State senators voted 25-10 Wednesday for the third and final piece of Gov. Dennis Daugaard's plan to increase teacher pay and reform school finances in South Dakota. The legislation restructures the funding formula for school districts to base spending per teacher rather than per student, sets caps on school reserves, creates boundaries for capital outlay taxes and counts six categories of other revenue as part of a school district's local effort.
PIERRE—The state House of Representatives strongly supported a package of legislation Tuesday intended to help improve education of American Indian students in South Dakota. Two of the three measures go to the desk of Gov. Dennis Daugaard next for his review. SB 81 creates a tuition assistance program for training paraprofessionals to become teachers at public school districts with high enrollments of Indian students. Its estimated cost is $430,000. Rep. Shawn Bordeaux, D-Mission, called it "a grow your own" concept. House members voted for it 61-5.
PIERRE — Life sentences for juvenile offenders would be outlawed in South Dakota under a change approved Tuesday by the state House of Representatives. The legislation appeared to be dead Monday morning after the House State Affairs Committee voted 7-6 against it, with House Republican leader Brian Gosch, of Rapid City, casting the tiebreaker. But Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, and Rep. Timothy Johns, R-Lead, worked to have the House revive SB 140 on Tuesday and then pass it 50-17. Tieszen is its prime sponsor and Johns is the lead sponsor in the House.
PIERRE — Even Rep. Lance Russell admitted he couldn't resist voting for a property tax reduction for buffer strips Monday, regardless that it originated among the Legislature's Democrats. Russell, R-Hot Springs, joined most of the rest of the state House of Representatives and supported allowing grass strips planted on cropland along water bodies to be assessed at a lower value for property taxes as non-cropland.
PIERRE — State senators gave final approval Monday to paying some construction bonds early for the state universities and technical institutes and re-channeling the savings into a tuition subsidy for South Dakota students attending the campuses. Tuition for resident on-campus students would remain the same for the coming academic year as this year. South Dakota's total cost for an undergraduate resident student in fiscal 2016 is $15,282. That ranked third of the seven state region, behind Iowa at $16,602 and Minnesota at $17,824. North Dakota is lowest at $13,285.
PIERRE — Supporters and opponents of the governor's sales-tax increase that won final legislative approval last week found common ground Monday while preparing for a deadline battle today. The state House of Representatives voted 67-0 Monday for the piece of his three-part package that would provide teacher mentoring, offer efficiency incentives and expand the e-learning center at Northern State University.
PIERRE—South Dakota gun enthusiasts seeking to complete firearm purchases more quickly and with less paperwork would be allowed to apply for "gold card" privileges under a provision that received final legislative approval Monday. State senators voted 33-0 for the measure, HB 1190, which now heads to the governor for his final review. The House of Representatives previously passed it 66-1. Several dozen states already use some version of the gold card system.
PIERRE—The 2016 session of the Legislature enters its final week of work Monday. Here's a snapshot of the timetable, followed by summaries of some significant topics that didn't deal with the session's hottest issue, K-12 education funding. *Tuesday is the deadline for the House and the Senate to finish their second considerations of remaining legislation. *Wednesday through Friday are reserved for negotiations in conference committees on bills that have been passed in different versions by the two chambers and haven't found agreement yet.
PIERRE—The state House of Representatives on Monday will consider again whether to approve changes in the process used by counties for deciding livestock feedlot permits. Supporters of the legislation claim it's necessary to stop round after round of appeals on the same application. Opponents argue it's an attempt to limit action against a permit application. So far, the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, is winning on a matter that has split South Dakota agriculture organizations.
PIERRE—Legislation that eventually could help persons with disabilities have money set aside by family and friends in tax-free accounts for future expenses is headed to Gov. Dennis Daugaard's desk. The state Senate gave final approval 35-0 Thursday to a measure that calls for officials to see whether other states would allow South Dakotans to join their ABLE plans. ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. The tax-free savings accounts are similar to college savings plans and health savings accounts allowed under section 529 of the federal IRS tax code.