PIERRE—People wanting state licenses to be bail bondspersons in South Dakota might have to first submit to a federal criminal background, under a proposed change pending in the state Senate. Fingerprint cards would be submitted to the state Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Currently, only state background checks are conducted. Senate Bill 38 was scheduled for Senate debate Friday afternoon, but was deferred to Tuesday.
PIERRE — The request from Gov. Dennis Daugaard that the Legislature raise the state sales tax by one-half cent would generate an estimated $107.4 million the first year. He wants $63 million to be sent to public school districts as additional state aid to spend on teachers' salaries. The goal is to increase the average pay for a South Dakota teacher to $48,500. That would be a raise of approximately $8,500 from the average salary last year. He also proposes $40 million be spent to reduce the general-education taxes levied on property.
PIERRE—One of the many pieces of early legislation filed for the 2016 session is a measure that would appropriate $1.8 million for demolishing three buildings on the campus of the South Dakota Developmental Center at Redfield. The bill, HB 1015, also calls for the Department of Human Services to restore the site to its natural condition. The Redfield center is a modern challenge. Its first patients arrived in 1902. By about 1970, the population of developmentally disabled patients pushed at 1,200.
PIERRE—School officials from Sisseton and Woonsocket, where teams are called the Redmen, spoke publicly Wednesday against asking South Dakota school districts to "consider not using any stereotypical Indian imagery and Indian mascots that cause harm." But the elected directors for the South Dakota High School Activities Association approved the resolution on first reading. The tally by voice vote was 8-1. Moe Ruesink, activities director for Sioux Valley High School, cast the nay. Ruesink said his high school teams were known as the Warriors.
PIERRE—Secretary of State Shantel Krebs told legislators Wednesday her office is processing many more records and permits and she wants to increase fees for those transactions so the business services division can be financially self-sufficient. Krebs, a Republican who took office 12 months ago, said her staff worked more than 3,000 hours of overtime in the past year to catch up with the backlog left by her predecessor.
PIERRE—As recently as 10 years ago, the bank-franchise tax brought in more than $30 million annually to South Dakota state government's treasury. This year, however, it's estimated to generate just over $5 million. A tax that was once a reliable source of money has turned unstable and contentious. State government prevailed against Citibank in the South Dakota Supreme Court last year.
PIERRE—Medicaid expansion and Indian Health Service improvements took up much of the time Tuesday that Gov. Dennis Daugaard didn't spend on teacher pay and school financial reforms in his State of the State speech Tuesday to the Legislature. But he covered a variety of other significant topics including the possibility for a new state park in Spearfish Canyon, a giant statue planned for a Missouri River bluff at Chamberlain in September and an internal review into state government corruption.
PIERRE—Grant funds from the Building South Dakota programs could be used for paying personnel administering them under legislation proposed by the Governor's Office of Economic Development. The change would apply to the South Dakota Housing Development Authority, as well as to GOED. The measure, Senate Bill 45, also would allow GOED to shift Building South Dakota funds between the three program categories it administers.
PIERRE — The tuition freeze proposed for South Dakota students attending the state universities and public technical institutes came under early scrutiny Monday by members of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations. The panel of 18 legislators, who oversee state government's budget, met with the governor's budget director, state Finance Commissioner Jason Dilges, to review spending recommendations for 2016 and 2017. The 2016 legislative session officially starts at noon today and runs 38 working days.
PIERRE—A top aide to Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Wednesday federal officials would visit South Dakota the week of Jan. 18 to work on state government's plan to expand Medicaid to lower-income people and improve health care for American Indian people. State Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon told members of the governor's health-care solutions panel that the key pieces are moving into place at the federal level. "They intend to issue Gov. Daugaard a letter outlining their intent with these areas. That will be followed up with their formal policy change," she said.