Bob Mercer reports from the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre for The Daily Republic and other newspapers around the state.
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PIERRE -- Rep. Betty Olson didn't find many takers Monday for her plan to restrict new conservation easements to no longer than 99 years in South Dakota. The state House of Representatives rejected her legislation 51-17. The defeat was worse than two years ago when her 30-year limit was killed 45-22. Opponents of this year's version, HB 1083, said it would take away federal tax advantages for estates. "I don't think it's fair to change the rules in the middle of the game," said Rep. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland.
PIERRE -- South Dakota legislators would receive $10,000 annually for their service under a plan that cleared its first test Monday. The annual pay has been $6,000 since 1999. The increase could help more people be able to afford to serve in the Legislature, according to Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City. "By limiting the pay of legislators we are limiting our competition," Tieszen said. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 to endorse passage of Tieszen's plan, SB 142. Now it heads to the full Senate for action.
The Governor's Office of Economic Development's EB-5 report to the federal government is now on the state government's website.
PIERRE — By the barest margin, the state House of Representatives last week gave its approval to legislation that would allow more special duck hunting licenses for a special group of non-residents. To be eligible, they must have been born in South Dakota or previously lived and hunted in South Dakota. Further, they would have to be sponsored for the special licenses by close family members who still make their homes in South Dakota, and they would have to hunt with those family members.
PIERRE — As a major increase in the assessment fee paid by South Dakota wheat producers is chugging through the Legislature, a state lawmaker from Brown County wants to change how members are selected to the state board that oversees the spending. Participating wheat growers would elect the members under the proposal from Rep. Dennis Feickert, D-Aberdeen. That would replace the present system where the governor appoints the five. Feickert's legislation, HB 1195, represents the viewpoint of South Dakota Farmers Union on the matter.
PIERRE -- Never underestimate Charlie Hoffman. He is a state representative from McPherson County, a Republican, rancher, son of a one-time candidate for governor, father of successful children and husband of Holly, who needs no introduction if you watch the TV program "Survivor." Now he's promising to take to the streets and highways of South Dakota in the months ahead in an attempt to change about 100,000 minds. He has pledged to campaign for expanding term limits for legislators so they can serve longer.
PIERRE -- South Dakota legislators get to withdraw bills this year. The new rule has been used six times so far in the 2014 legislative session: Two bills in the House of Representatives and four in the Senate. Only the prime sponsor can ask for the withdrawal and must have agreement of the chamber's presiding officer. The withdrawal must come before the bill's first committee hearing. House Speaker Brian Gosch proposed the change. "It's working just as I had hoped," Gosch, R-Rapid City, said Friday. Here's a look at what's been officially withdrawn:
PIERRE -- In a nearly empty hearing room, a legislator squared off against a tax collector Friday. The legislator, Sen. Tim Begalka, R-Clear Lake, makes his living as a greenhouse operator growing plants. He isn't running for re-election this year. Before his time ends in the Senate, he is trying to get a tax definition changed for all of the people in the same business as he is.
Rep. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel said the testimony was "a perfect example" of what happens when someone tries to scale back a government program.
PIERRE -- Unemployment taxes would be cut an estimated $11.3 million in 2015 for South Dakota businesses under a proposal set for final approval in the Legislature. The Senate vote could come as early as Friday. The measure cleared a Senate committee Thursday and won approval in the House of Representatives 70-0 two weeks ago. The bill, HB 1045, is proposed by the state Department of Labor and Regulation. It adjusts the rates in the table used for calculating the amounts that employers must pay into the system.