PIERRE — The state Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed the governor's proposal to raise the state sales tax Thursday without any attempt by opponents to amend it. The panel's 7-2 vote sends the proposal to the full Senate for a vote possibly next week, but there still seemed uncertainty Thursday how the legislation would ultimately fare. The 35 senators now become the deciders. The tax increase needs a two-thirds majority of 24 ayes. Twelve opponents could block it.
PIERRE—A plan to give state tax credits to insurance companies, for donations they provide for tuition aid at non-public K-12 schools in South Dakota, won approval Wednesday from the state Senate. The vote of 24-11 sends the legislation, SB 159, to the House of Representatives for further consideration. It would allow insurance companies to donate up to $2.5 million and receive tax credits of $2 million.
PIERRE—The Daugaard administration's proposal to deter corruption in state government and throughout South Dakota's public education system won unanimous approval Wednesday from the state Senate. The 35-0 vote to create a new state Board of Internal Control sends SB 162 to the House of Representatives. The House has already approved 67-0 a separate measure to regulate conflicts of interest involving members of state boards, commissions and authorities.
PIERRE—House Republican leader Brian Gosch said Wednesday he doesn't think Medicaid expansion will occur in South Dakota this year. The Rapid City lawmaker's remark came as the state House of Representatives voted Wednesday to require the governor to seek the Legislature's explicit approval. Gosch made clear that members of the Legislature don't doubt Gov. Dennis Daugaard's word that he would come to them before proceeding. But the legislative requirement proposed in HB 1234 would make sure that happens, Gosch said.
PIERRE—The state House of Representatives decided Wednesday that short-term lenders shouldn't be able to sidestep a public vote this fall. House members voted 47-21 to kill legislation that would have created a new chapter of South Dakota banking law covering consumer lines of credit. Had the plan succeeded, short-term lenders could have received new state licenses and wouldn't have been subject to a Nov. 8 ballot measure. The ballot measure, brought by opponents of payday loans, seeks to limit interest rates on short-term loans to 36 percent.
PIERRE—The state House of Representatives agreed Tuesday that township governments should get more money for their roads and bridges and the money should come from city governments. House members voted 49-17 for the legislation, HB 1137. It needed 47 ayes to pass. It now goes to the Senate. The plan, spearheaded Tuesday by Rep. Dick Werner, R-Huron, calls for capturing $1,450,000 that now goes to city governments from vehicle registration fees and giving $1,020,000 to townships and $430,000 to counties.
PIERRE—South Dakota's formula for funding public schools would be restructured and teachers would receive an average salary of $48,500 under a plan endorsed Tuesday by the state Senate. The measure, SB 131, passed 29-6 and goes next to the House of Representatives. All three pieces of the governor's education package now have won approval from either the House or the Senate. Opponents of the legislation Tuesday asked why the average teacher salary increase of approximately $8,000 isn't tied to specific improvements in students' academic performances.
PIERRE—South Dakotans who suffer from intractable epilepsy and can't control the violent seizures through other medications without suffering severe side effects might get some help from the Legislature. The state Senate voted 20-15 to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana oil for patients. The oil couldn't contain more than 3 percent THC. "You can drink a gallon of this stuff and it's not going to get you high," Sen. Angie Buhl O'Donnell, D-Sioux Falls, said.
PIERRE—State senators voted Tuesday to toughen South Dakota's abortion restrictions by four weeks. They decided 21-14 to embrace the fetal-pain standard of 20 weeks. They would prohibit abortions in most instances if the pregnancy is in week 20 or after. Currently, abortions are generally allowed within the first 24 weeks. The prime sponsor is Sen. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre. He said all of the stories told by senators about difficult births should be considered.
PIERRE -- State Rep. Lee Schoenbeck confirmed Tuesday morning that he plans to resign from the South Dakota Legislature effective tonight. But after his wife called him later on Tuesday,...