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LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Work-crew museum awaits official status

PIERRE--The state House of Representatives could consider today (Thursday) whether to officially designate the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota at Hill City as -- what else? -- the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota.

PIERRE-The state House of Representatives could consider today (Thursday) whether to officially designate the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota at Hill City as - what else? - the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota.

Official status doesn't bring any state funding. In fact, the legislation specifically says the museum won't receive any for operation or maintenance. But the designation would do what Peggy Sanders of Hill City thought had been already done long ago.

Sanders and Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City, testified for the legislation Wednesday before the House State Affairs Committee. The panel unanimously endorsed HB 1065.

Angela Ehlers, the executive director for the association of South Dakota conservation districts, spoke in favor too. She said the Depression-era CCC workers built many public improvements throughout the state.

"There was thousands of projects," Ehlers said.

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Sen. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, said her father was a CCC worker who was "very proud" of what they accomplished.

For Rep. Spencer Hawley, the bill was a revelation. "I wasn't aware there was a museum and I'm happy to hear that," Hawley, D-Brookings, said.

He noted the sign near Blue Bell Lodge in Custer State Park thanking the CCC for getting rid of mountain pine beetles in the Black Hills as part of their 1930s work.

Foresters and land owners have been fighting that battle anew the past few decades.

VETERANS PREFERENCE: House members approved Rep. Fred Deutch's legislation Wednesday that would require state government, cities, counties and school districts to give interviews to armed services veterans when they meet minimum job qualifications.

"Not the job, just the interview," Deutsch, R-Florence, said. "It's small token, a very small way for South Dakotans to say thank you for your service."

The 68-0 vote sends the measure, HB 1056, to the Senate for consideration.

GOODNIGHT MOON: Sen. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, fell one aye short of winning Senate approval Wednesday for her legislation that would have put South Dakota on daylight savings time year round.

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Naturally Lt. Gov. Matt Michels couldn't resist teeing off some good lines as he presided over the debate.

"Sen. Olson, does anybody really know what time it is?" Michels asked.

"Not out in my neck of the woods," Olson replied.

The roll call on SB 60 produced 17 ayes and 16 nays. Legislation generally needs at least 18 ayes for Senate passage.

"Would you like to reconsider this in an hour?" Michels asked.

She declined.

CHILD ABUSE: The Senate approved a definition for child advocacy centers Wednesday. They are places that will provide training for law enforcement and people involved in handling child sexual-abuse cases.

They also would be places where children in such cases can be processed so "they are not victimized" again, Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, said. She is chairwoman of the Jolene's Law task force that has been working on child sex-abuse issues.

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Soholt said the official estimate is that 4,000 children in South Dakota experience sexual abuse each year. "We know that number is highly under-represented," she said.

Sen. Art Rusch, R-Vermillion, spoke from his perspectives as a prosecutor for 12 years and a judge for 18 years. He said "so many of the cases" he saw were badly investigated and the children were badly interviewed that convictions were difficult.

He said that in other states people have been wrongly convicted because of what was presented to children during interviews. He said the centers will be "a tremendous step forward" to train law enforcement and interviewers.

The vote on SB 21 was 33-0. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives.

NO HAMMER: Rep. John Wiik, R-Big Stone City, offered the amendment Wednesday that removed some enhanced penalty provisions from a regulatory bill dealing with gas stations.

The House Commerce and Energy Committee approved his change on a voice vote. The committee then unanimously endorsed the amended bill, HB 1031. The full House of Representatives will consider it next week.

"It's a beginning. It's a slippery slope," Wiik said about allowing state inspectors to charge businesses if their fuel documents weren't immediately at hand. "I'm going to go against the heavy hand of government on this."

His amendment came on the heels of testimony against that section by Dawna Lietzke, executive director for the South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association.

She said bills of lading for fuel deliveries weren't required until after the 2012 dispute over octane ratings.

The state Department of Public Safety wanted to be able to charge for the cost of time spent locating documents if the retail establishment didn't have the required documents on site at the time of the inspection.

Department lawyer Jenna Howell said the intent was to only cover the actual costs. "The documents are supposed to be on site," Howell said.

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