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Local legislators eye 2018 priorities

Davison County's lone state senator is hoping to tackle what could be a "sticky issue" in the 2018 legislative session. On the heels of the 2017 session, the South Dakota Supreme Court made a decision on a controversial issue of outdoor enthusias...

Members of the House of Representatives and Senate along with other government officials listen to Gov. Dennis Daugaard give his state of the state speech at the start of the 2017 legislative session at the state capitol in Pierre back in January. (Republic file photo)
Members of the House of Representatives and Senate along with other government officials listen to Gov. Dennis Daugaard give his state of the state speech at the start of the 2017 legislative session at the state capitol in Pierre back in January. (Republic file photo)

Davison County's lone state senator is hoping to tackle what could be a "sticky issue" in the 2018 legislative session.

On the heels of the 2017 session, the South Dakota Supreme Court made a decision on a controversial issue of outdoor enthusiasts accessing sloughs that expanded onto private land. The state Supreme Court said the state Legislature will now need to act on whether the public can access expanded waters for recreational purposes, and that's where Republican State Sen. Joshua Klumb comes in.

"Now I'm pretty sure there's going to be a summer study topic on the non-meandered water issue, and I'm going to try to get on that summer study committee because that's also one of those issues that's been around for quite awhile already and it's not going away anytime soon," Klumb told The Daily Republic last week.

The March court ruling was made after a group of property owners complained that the public would fire guns, play loud music and litter on the Day County sloughs that expanded onto their property since 1993. But the court ruled that until the Legislature acts, neither the landowners nor the public have an obligation to the waters.

Klumb, a Mount Vernon legislator who recently completed his first session as a senator following two years in the state House, hopes to help find the answer that solves the issue for both sides. He said a summer study would provide the Legislature with "hard evidence and good ideas" to help tackle the issue, but he isn't certain all stakeholders would love the outcome.

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"I don't want to be pessimistic or anything, but to find a solution where everyone is happy isn't going to be very possible, I'm afraid," Klumb said. "It'll have to be one of those things where no one's happy, and that must mean you got the best possible solution because no one's really happy with the outcome."

And for Klumb, who represents three south-central South Dakota counties, serving on the summer study would take the burden off legislators in the Day County area.

"It's going to be a hot topic, sometimes you do that for the team, you know?" Klumb said.

Fellow District 20 legislator, State Rep. Tona Rozum, has other priorities in mind for 2018.

Rozum will be term-limited out of the House of Representatives following the 2018 session, and she said she has no intentions to run for state Senate following her eight-year run. So the Mitchell Republic is looking to wrap up her time in office with a bill she's worked on for years.

Rozum said the idea would allow foundations to contribute money to a nonprofit, like LifeQuest or Abbott House, and let the nonprofit return a portion of the money at a later date.

"And the purpose for that would be if you have a major project that you're doing, you could go ahead with the project, you could get the money from the foundation, the foundation could count it as their required granting and then you would be able to down the road pay some of it back," Rozum said.

Rozum said she's been considering the proposal for approximately five years, and hopes the idea that initially came from Abbott House Executive Director Eric Klooz can come to fruition in 2018.

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Rozum also hopes to see a discussion on permanent funding for community service providers (CSPs) is brought to the table in 2018. Rozum said the annual salary for CSPs like Abbott House and LifeQuest is approximately $22,000 with an annual turnover rate of 47 to 48 percent.

"These places are doing the work of the state, and if the state's not careful, they're going to get them back and it's going to cost a lot more for the state to run these programs such as LifeQuest and Abbott House than what's going on now," Rozum said last week.

As for District 19 State Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, he's focused on the present rather than the future.

"I am on the Government Operations & Audit Committee as well as Tribal Relations Committee with numerous meetings between now and next session, so my attentions are immediately on those duties," Nelson said in an email to The Daily Republic last week.

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