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Executive Board picks topics for legislative interim studies

PIERRE -- Mental health and safety should be the topic for an interim study, the Legislature's Executive Board decided Monday. Assisting county governments could be one focus, Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, said. "The Legislature could be p...

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PIERRE - Mental health and safety should be the topic for an interim study, the Legislature's Executive Board decided Monday.

Assisting county governments could be one focus, Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, said.

"The Legislature could be part of the solution to this problem," Haugaard said. "I think we could take this on and do some good."

The board also chose spending on special education through the extraordinary costs fund.

"The numbers are climbing so fast. It needs to be looked at," Rep. Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown, said.

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The board decided against studying mental health in schools, the top topic in the survey.

The Legislative Research Council asked lawmakers for their ideas during the March veto break, executive director Jason Hancock said.

That means interim committees could start work one month earlier than during past years, he said.

Hancock told Executive Board members their spring meetings are April 23 and May 21, followed by a summer break. The schedule resumes Aug. 27. The post-election meeting is tentatively Nov. 9.

The research council is adding two staff members to evaluate state programs.

The Executive Board decided to ask the Joint Committee on Appropriations for recommendations and also to use information from other committees.

Hancock also announced departures of:

• Jessica LaMie, to become Hughes County deputy state's attorney, effective April 6;

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• Annie Mehlhaff, the LRC fiscal chief, is retiring in late May. She has been employed at the council since 1996;

• Fred Baatz, one of the LRC principal research analysts, is retiring May 8. He has been employed at the council since 1995 and in state government since 1979.

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