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.
PIERRE—The Legislature's joint committee on retirement laws should continue to make the final decision about pay for the administrator for the South Dakota Retirement System, a legislative panel has decided. Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, wanted to give the final responsibility to the Legislature's Executive Board instead. But the House State Affairs Committee, whose members include some Executive Board members, killed his bill 12-1 Wednesday.
PIERRE—The South Dakota Supreme Court decided last year that an injured employee with more than one job should receive workers' compensation payments for the other jobs the person can't work while hurt. The Legislature now is moving forward on state laws to reflect the major change, known as aggregation, made by the court's May 5, 2015, decision regarding Patricia Wheeler, of Sioux Falls. Her injury at one job left her unable to perform her two other jobs.
PIERRE—State senators voted 23-10 Wednesday to add meningitis to the list of immunizations students need to attend school in South Dakota. The state Health Department seeks the change. The legislation, SB 28, goes to the House of Representatives next. Sen. Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls, said the vaccination issue represents a collision between public-health policy and family decisions. "It's one way or the other," Curd, a doctor, said. Sen. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, attempted to add a philosophical-opposition waiver.
PIERRE—A coalition of Democratic and Republican members in the state House of Representatives blocked an attempt at more government secrecy Monday. Thirty-six representatives voted for the amendment from Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory. Her change stopped the state Division of Banking from publishing public notices for new trust applicants only on the division's Internet site. The notices had been published in local newspapers. That practice now could continue. The division could still publish them on its website, too, if desired.