Lawmakers begin action on Daugaard school plan
PIERRE -- The state House of Representatives gets the first crack this week at the governor's proposal to raise the sales tax by one-half cent to pay for larger salaries for teachers and to provide property tax relief.
PIERRE - The state House of Representatives gets the first crack this week at the governor's proposal to raise the sales tax by one-half cent to pay for larger salaries for teachers and to provide property tax relief.
House Speaker Dean Wink, R-Howes, on Friday afternoon assigned the tax-increase legislation to the House Committee on Appropriations. The committee's chairman, Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg, immediately scheduled the bill hearing for Monday afternoon (Feb. 8) at 3 p.m.
The committee's nine members won't meet in their usual third-floor conference room. Instead they will gather in room 414, the Legislature's largest meeting room.
The immediate question is whether the committee will allow Gov. Dennis Daugaard's measure, HB 1182, to proceed unchanged to the full House for a debate.
House Republican leader Brian Gosch of Rapid City has been working privately with other House Republicans to generate a rival proposal.
Their approach reportedly would function without a sales-tax tax increase and would provide money over three years through cuts in other parts of state government's budget.
How they would guarantee the money would be available in years two and three isn't clear. That might be irrelevant because they would avoid the tax-increase vote.
The fact that they are considering how to pay for a teacher-pay plan at all suggests the governor and the school groups have already won the key fight.
The House committee's Republican members are David Anderson of Hudson, Dan Dryden of Rapid City, Jean Hunhoff of Yankton, Alex Jensen of Sioux Falls, Jeff Partridge of Rapid City, Fred Romkema of Spearfish and Cronin.
The panel's Democrats are Shawn Bordeaux of Mission and Ray Ring of Vermillion.
The committee would need a majority of five members to endorse the governor's legislation or to amend it into another version before sending it to the full House.
The Gosch group didn't file its plan as an official piece of legislation before the bill-introduction deadlines last week.
That means their plan needs to be amended into another piece of legislation that was officially introduced.
The governor's tax increase needs a two-thirds majority to pass in the House and move to the Senate.
It could be amended through a simple majority in the House. But if any tax increase or specific appropriations remained in it after any amendment, it would still need a two-thirds majority for House passage.
The number to keep in mind in the 70-member House is 24. If there are 24 opponents on a measure that needs a two-thirds majority, the measure will fail.
REST OF PLAN: The Senate Committee on Appropriations introduced the other three pieces of the governor's education financing legislation.
The three measures would change the funding formula in a variety of ways and lay out how the money would be spent.
The Senate's president pro tem, Sen. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, assigned those three bills to the Senate State Affairs Committee, rather than the appropriations committee as the House did.
Cammack is chairman of the State Affairs panel. He hasn't scheduled hearing dates yet. The legislation is SB 131, SB 132 and SB 133.
The other Republican members of the Senate State Affairs Committee are Alan Solano of Rapid City, Corey Brown of Gettysburg, Ried Holien of Watertown, Ernie Otten of Sioux Falls, Deb Soholt of Sioux Falls and Craig Tieszen of Rapid City.
The Democratic members are Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton and Billie Sutton of Burke.
Stopping a bill in either chamber doesn't mean the contents are dead. The other chamber can amend the contents from the dead bill into one of the other bills.
Legislators in both chambers have introduced plenty of empty bills that can be used as vehicles for amending too.
THE CONNECTIONS: The governor's plan resulted from the report of the Blue Ribbon task force on teachers and students that he appointed last year.
Soholt and Rep. Jacqueline Sly, R-Rapid City, co-chaired the task force.
The other legislators on the study group included Cronin, Brown, Sutton and Tieszen, as well as Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission; Rep. Paula Hawks, D-Hartford; Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls; and Rep. Steve Westra, R-Sioux Falls.
There were many citizens and school personnel who were appointed by the governor to it, as were his chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, and state Education Secretary Melody Schopp.
The task force had a lot of legislative clout in education matters among its members.
Brown is the Senate Republican leader. Sutton is the Senate Democratic leader. Heinert is the Senate Democrats' assistant leader.
Westra is the House Republicans' assistant leader. Mickelson is the speaker pro tem, the No. 2 presiding officer and an expected candidate for governor in 2018.
Hawks is the Democratic candidate this year for U.S. House of Representatives.
Soholt and Sly are the chairs for the education committees in their respective chambers.
CALENDAR COUNTING: The official legislative calendar this year sets Feb. 23 as the final day for committees to finish action on bills for the first time.
That leaves 10 working days, including Feb. 23, for the two chambers to process the governor's four bills for the first time.
The official calendar sets Feb. 24 as the last day for a chamber to take action on a bill for the first time, although that deadline, known as crossover day, isn't absolute.
A chamber's members can agree by two-thirds vote to suspend the crossover requirement and continue work for an additional day or longer as necessary.