PIERRE—Some members want to talk about better pay for the Legislature starting in 2017 if money can be found. They currently receive $6,000 per year for their two-year terms. They also receive mileage and expense payments of $125 per day during legislative session and other official business. Sen. Deb Peters and Rep. Mark Willadsen are suggesting each of the 105 lawmakers get $500 per month for expenses in April through December when they aren't in session.
PIERRE—A state lawmaker from the home of the Big Stone power plant wants the Legislature to tell the federal government to back off. Rep. John Wiik, R-Big Stone City, is prime sponsor of a resolution asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its current clean-air plan. The companies that own the Big Stone plant spent $384 million on its new air-quality control system that was completed in December after three years of construction.
PIERRE—The governor, a group of Republicans and a group of Democrats separately filed new legislation dealing with ethics, contracts and conflicts of interest Thursday. The proposals came at the deadline for individual legislators to introduce legislation. Committees face their deadline today. The various measures, along with several others introduced earlier in the 2016 session, are responses to two scandals that unfolded in the past three years.
PIERRE—The state Senate reversed course Thursday and approved changes providing more favorable tax treatment for small parcels of agricultural land in South Dakota. The measure passed 18-17 after it had failed 17-18 on Wednesday, as Sen. Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, changed from a nay to an aye. The state House of Representatives, meanwhile, reaffirmed its opposition to creating a fourth class of property that would give more favorable tax treatment for leased residential housing. The housing measure failed on a 34-34 vote. It needed at least 36 ayes to pass.
PIERRE—Additional oversight by the Legislature is needed for government insurance pools operated in South Dakota for school districts, cities, counties and other public bodies, the state House of Representatives decided Thursday. House members voted 65-0 to put requirements on the insurance pools, in the wake of legislators learning in the past year that the Associated School Boards of South Dakota had run up an eight-figure debt operating its insurance program.
PIERRE—The state House of Representatives could make a final decision, possibly as early as today or Monday, whether meningitis becomes a required immunization for students to attend public school in South Dakota. Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard's administration proposed the legislation, SB 28. It won Senate approval last week, but a group of House Republican tried to kill it Thursday. They fell one vote short in the House Health and Human Services Committee.
PIERRE—A proposal moving through the Legislature calls for public notices to be posted for a longer period before state government public meetings. Current law calls for a continuous 24 hours for all public-meeting notices. State lawmakers are considering adding two intervening business days for state boards, commissions and departments. That sounds easy. What's complicated is how those two days would be calculated. The legislation, HB 1066, says the calculation should be based on the system used by the South Dakota state courts.
PIERRE—Sen. Brock Greenfield wants South Dakota voters to change how a U.S. Senate vacancy would be filled. Greenfield, R-Clark, proposed Wednesday that the Legislature would pick the replacement from its 105 members during a special session called by the governor. The chosen legislator then would serve as U.S. senator for the time remaining in the six-year term. Currently, the governor has the power to appoint a replacement.
PIERRE—A package of protections for elderly people in South Dakota against emotional and financial abuse won approval Wednesday from the state Senate. The vote was 35-0. SB 54 now goes to the House of Representatives. Sen. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, sponsored the legislation last year establishing the task force. David Gilbertson, chief justice for the South Dakota Supreme Court, had suggested the topic. "Some people have described elder abuse as hiding in plain sight or a silent crisis," Novstrup said.
PIERRE -- State government’s boards and commissions would need to post their meeting notices and agendas two days earlier, under a change approved Tuesday by the state House of Representatives...