Governor Daugaard signed five final bills for the SD 2015 legislative session

March 20, 2015 Comments off
Rep Gosch on the SD House floor after SB 69 had been killed briefly. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

Rep Gosch on the SD House floor after SB 69 had been killed briefly. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

On Friday, March 20, Governor Daugaard signed 5 bills into law. These were five of the final eight bills he waited until today to publicly announce his actions. The other three bills he vetoed.

Posts on the previous bills signed into law during the SD 2015 SD legislative session can be found hereherehereherehereherehere, herehere, here, herehere, and here.

This a group of bills where I wish the Governor had used his veto pen a little bit more. Just like with the 19 bills Daugaard signed yesterday, I’m not going to go too deep into these bills at this time. During the summer I have interviews setup with experts about most of these bills and plan more in-depth posts.

SB 2 – SoDakLiberty PostsProvide for the establishment of river basin natural resource districts.

Sen Jason Frerichs (D, Dist 1) and Rep Brian Gosch (R, Dist 32) are the prime sponsors at the request of the Regional Watershed Advisory Task Force. This bill passed Senate Ag 6-3 after being amended. It passed the Senate floor 20-12. It was then amended in House Ag and passed 10-1. The House floor passed it 51-18 and the Senate concurred in the House changes 28-6.

I found this to be a quite odd bill for a Republican legislature to pass. Technically the new river basin natural resource districts could lead to a large and out-of-control bureaucracy in future years. I think the amendment alleviated the short-term fears of some (including me) about the bill. The amendment in part adds this language: “This Act does not give any district created pursuant to this Act any regulatory or taxing authority”. I still fear the districts would be used against land owners in the future. If this was really so important I wonder why they couldn’t start small, with just one small test water district. This summer I will be speaking with various proponents and opponents of this bill. Right now I am still very much an opponent, but I will as always keep an open mind.

SB 3 – SoDakLiberty PostsProvide for mediation of certain drainage disputes.

Sen Mike Vehle (R, Dist 20) and Rep Brian Gosch (R, Dist 32) are the prime sponsors at the request of the Regional Watershed Advisory Task Force. This bill was amended in Senate Ag and passed that committee 8-0. It then passed the Senate floor 32-2. House Agriculture and Natural Resources passed the bill 11-0 and the House floor passed it 67-1.

This is a HUGE topic… especially here in Brown County, where the County Commissioners act as the drainage board. There have been a lot of incidents where neighbors get into battles (sometimes with fists) over water drainage issues. At first I opposed the bill. But as time went on and I studied the bill more I feel this was actually good legislation. It will allow for drainage disputes to be settled outside of the judicial system. Currently the County Commissioners have no actual power to settle disputes, and it would be unwise to give them that power. This bill allows for a mediation path that should be cheaper for landowners than through the judicial system.

SB 67 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain provisions regarding challenges to certain election petition signatures.

This bill comes as a request of the SD State Board of Elections. Through session many people, including myself have called it SOS Shantel Krebs bill, but I would like to once again point out the SD State Board of Elections has their name on the bill.

SB 67 passed both chambers with only opposition from 3 on the House floor.

This bill doesn’t seem to be fixing the right problem because it fails to add adequate time for people to challenge a petition. I listened to the SOS give proponent testimony in Senate State Affairs (what seems like forever ago). I do think she made the case that this bill will expedite the court portion of a petition challenge. It undoubtedly will do so. However I believe a bigger problem is citizens getting access to the actual petitions to be challenged, and the voters rolls to do it with. I would have preferred another week for petition challenges be added into this bill. Yes, I think this bill makes an improvement, just not enough. In the end it doesn’t matter what this bill does though. SB 69 (further down the list) is the sister bill to SB 67. Since SB 69 has been amended, the actual good that may come from SB 67 has been destroyed. SB 67 and SB 69 are being submitted (at least in part) to deal with craziness that happened during the 2014 election. As things stand now the election of 2016 may actually be more of a circus thanks to these bills. It should make for interesting blogging!

If the Governor had vetoed SB 69 he would also have had to veto SB 67 because of the timeline changes that connect the two bills.

SB 69SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain provisions regarding elections and election petitions.

This is the only bill I adamantly wanted the Governor to veto. This bill also comes as a request of the SD State Board of Elections. And just like SB 67, originates from SOS Shantel Krebs. Honestly I’m tired of blogging about this bill. I have a post highlighting the whole history of this bill and why it should have been vetoed. Sadly the bill was not vetoed. I’ve already seen groups are looking at challenging the law next year in court. Since there are already federal cases showing certain provisions in SB 69 are unconstitutional it should be an easy case. It is sad the legislature chose to pass a bill with known constitutional issues that taxpayers will now have to pay to defend and the AG will have to spend valuable time defending.

Too bad. This underlying original intent of parts of this bill were pretty good and would have made a good first start towards election reform in SD. But instead now it looks like the legislative leaders in Pierre are acting like bullies to keep opposition off the ballot. That just isn’t healthy for the State of SD.

I probably won’t blog about this anymore until the lawsuits are brought forth. I’ve also heard whispered of an initiated measure to change certain election provisions. That also may be another time I blog about this bill.

SB 177 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Establish a youth minimum wage.

Sen David Novstrup (R, Dist 3) and Rep Justin Cronin (R, Dist 23) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed Senate Commerce and Energy 5-1, the Senate floor 26-7, and House Commerce 11-2. It was then sent back to House Commerce because of a request to get a fiscal note. The bill then passed out of House Commerce 11-1. The House floor passed the bill 44-24.

This bill changes the minimum wage for those under 18 to $7.50. This is in response to the minimum wage going up due to the initiated measure on last years ballot. Personally I think this is a good change. I have spoken to certain employers in the Aberdeen area that use youth help for extra projects during the summer. Their budget for summer help is set to a certain dollar amount. The increased wage for these youth means less hours available for youth labor during the summer. But, at the same time this new minimum wage was just set by the voters of SD. So it might be too soon to make such changes…

I expect most of my blogging about this particular bill will come from the 2016 District 3 race for state Senate. If David Novstrup runs for re-election I would expect the Brown County Democrats to make this their top issue to get a Democrat elected.

3 bills vetoed by Governor Daugaard on March 20

March 20, 2015 5 comments
Sen Brock Greenfield speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/16/15.

Sen Brock Greenfield speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/16/15.

Today, March 20, Governor Daugaard finally decided which bills he felt were worthy of a veto. He sent out releases about his veto of SB 100, veto of SB 136, and veto of SB 159.

None of these are the bills was I was truly hoping would be vetoed (although I am happy to see SB 100 get a veto). It almost seems like Daugaard looks for bills to veto that most people really don’t care about…

SB 100 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Create a leased residential property classification.

Sen Deb Peters (R, Dist 9) and Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed Senate Taxation 4-3. It was amended on the Senate floor to remove the new levy for this classification. The amended version of the bill passed 25-8. The bill had a slight amendment in House Taxation and passed that committee 10-5 and the House floor 40-27. The Senate concurred 25-8 to the changes made in the House.

This bill would have created a new property tax classification of leased residential property. Technically the bill in its current form is a way for the state to collect data about how many leased residential properties there are in the state so that data can be used to push for a new tax levy in the future. This would theoretically allow for lower property taxes that can be passed on to families struggling to pay their rent. That is what proponents of the bill were saying. Personally I believe the bill have done the opposite long-term. Long-term I believe this classification change would open up the door to property taxes per unit when dealing with rental situations. That could end up being one heck of a large tax increase. It has happened in other states

Additionally I don’t think enough property owners would go down to the County office and change the classification of their property just so the state can collect data. In its current form, this bill really doesn’t incentive property owners into going through the trouble of changing their property tax classification.

This is a bill I am more than happy to see the Governor veto. He did it more for the reasons stated in his release:

Senate Bill 100 is a first step toward a different property tax levy for leased residential property – a change that will shift the property tax burden onto agricultural, nonagricultural, and owner-occupied property taxpayers, without any guarantee of savings for residents of leased properties.  For that reason, I oppose this bill and I ask that you sustain my veto.

He is correct, if fully implemented in the future this bill would shift tax burden. I just don’t think it would have stayed beneficial. I don’t see the legislature overriding this veto.

SB 136 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Exclude certain municipal taxes from the gross receipts used to determine the tax liability for customers served by electric cooperatives and electric utilities.

Sen Corey Brown (R, Dist 23) and Rep Al Novstrup (R, Dist 3) are the prime sponsors. This bill was gutted by Senate Tax. It passed the committee 6-1 after being hoghoused. The new bill seems to do about the same thing, just in a different way. It was then gutted again on the Senate floor, and language similar to the original bill was hoghoused into it. The re-hoghoused bill passed the Senate floor 32-0. It had a couple of amendments in House Tax and passed that committee 12-0. It then had a title amendment on the House floor to reflect the changes made in House Tax and passed 67-1. The Senate concurred with the House changes 34-0.

Basically this looks like a good bill. It prevents a tax from being taxed. The Governor gave this reason for his veto:

Senate Bill 136 would create a special exemption for rural electric companies that no other South Dakota business is given.  It would allow a rural electric company to deduct its payment in lieu of property taxes from its gross receipts before paying state and municipal sales tax.

Creating this special dispensation is contrary to the broad based sales tax principles that are the foundation of South Dakota’s sales tax, the primary source of state government funds, and could easily lead to other businesses requesting similar exemptions in future years.

South Dakota should not create a special tax calculation rule for rural electric companies that no other South Dakota business is given.  I oppose this bill and I ask that you sustain my veto.

I am going to have to research this bill a little bit more. Perhaps my understanding of this particular piece of legislation is wrong. It doesn’t match up with Daugaard’s assessment. The bill passed through both chambers strong enough that a veto override is possible. The question is whether the legislators actually have the guts to do so.

SB 159 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Exempt certain amateur sports coaches from sales and use tax.

Sen Brock Greenfield  (R, Dist 2) and Rep Tona Rozum (R, Dist 20) are the prime sponsors. This bill had a bit of a journey in the Senate. It originally failed a Do Pass vote in Senate Taxation 3-3, after another member came back to the committee it passed Senate Taxation 4-3. It then failed on the Senate floor 17-15. At the time the prime sponsor Sen Greenfield was out with an injury. Then came a vote to reconsider, which passed 28-3. Finally with Sen Greenfield back it passed the Senate floor 22-13. When it hit House Taxation it passed 10-2 and the House floor passed it 63-5.

This bill is actually pretty simple. It exempts amateur baseball coaches from Sales and Use Tax if the team is a 501(c)(19) non-profit.

Here is part of the reason given by Daugaard for the veto:

Exemptions to the sales tax base, such as Senate Bill 159, erode the sales tax base and diminish a steady, reliable source of revenue for our State.  Senate Bill 159’s exemption benefits a select group and could lead to additional exemption requests in the future.  We must resist any attempt to erode the sales tax base and must work to keep the sales tax base as broad, and therefore as stable, as possible.

In addition, Senate Bill 159’s exemption creates a privilege to the amateur baseball teams sponsored by select organizations, specifically American Legion and VFW organizations. While I admire these organizations and appreciate the work they do, it is bad tax policy to exempt coaches in these organizations, while continuing to tax other amateur baseball coaches

I must say I really never cared one way or the other about this bill. Personally I think the legislature should just let this veto stand. Let Sen Greenfield come back next year with a less specific coach exemption. There will still likely be resistance to the bill from the Governor, but at least he won’t be able to say it was because only a certain type of coach was targeted.

The 19 bill Governor Daugaard signed into law on March 19

March 20, 2015 1 comment
SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 01/21/15.

SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 01/21/15.

On Thursday, March 19, Governor Daugaard signed 19 bills into law. He announced 17 of them all at once. But he also decided to announce an increase to the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship and the General Appropriations Act signings in their own releases.

Posts on the previous bills signed into law during the SD 2015 SD legislative session can be found hereherehereherehereherehere, herehere, here, here, and here.

This is probably one of the more interesting group of bills signed by the Governor this year. Most of these are appropriation bills that were forced to the negotiations portion of the conference committee process. In this post I am going to basically paste my previous notes on each bill. Many of these I plan on doing individual blog posts about in the future to expand on them. So I might not go as deep in this post for some of the more important bills as I may otherwise. And yes, this post is long. But since I plan to do individual posts on many of them coming up, I don’t mind this post being long.

It is worth noting there are only 8 bills for the Governor left to decide upon at this time.

SB 53 – SoDakLiberty PostsRevise certain provisions regarding the state aid to general education formula and to revise the property tax levies for the general fund of school districts.

The SD Bureau of Finance and Management (BFM) asked for this bill. This bill passed Senate Appropriations 8-0 and the Senate floor 25-10. It had an amendment on in House Appropriations and passed 8-0. It was further amended on the House floor and passed 66-2. The Senate failed to concur with the changes made in the House. It then went to conference committee to work out the differences between the two chambers. There all of the amendments placed on the bill in House Appropriations and the House floor were removed. Finally the bill amended back to its original form passed the Senate 26-7 and the House 48-18.

This bill provided the 2% increase in state aid to school funding. But then it really doesn’t. SB 53 made a huge change to school funding. Currently costs related to technology in schools, statewide student assessments, and school district benefits are figured outside of the school funding formula. SB 53 now includes those extra costs in the state aid funding formula. The practical consequence of this change means more school funding dollars will have to come from local effort through higher property taxes. Kind of a neat trick for the legislature and Governor to pull off. They make it look like a magic 2% increase has been found; when in fact all it really boils down to is an accounting illusion with some major redirection.

The actual change for “per student allocation” was to the rate of $4,876.76 for 2016, that is up from $4781.14 in 2015. That may sound good. But most of that increase will come at the cost of local taxpayers. Personally I believe the taxes and control should be as close as possible to the school districts. It is more how this change was made that makes me feel uneasy about the change.

This bill also changed the maximum level of the tax levy.

SB 54 – SoDakLiberty PostsRevise certain provisions regarding the state aid to special education formula and to revise the property tax levies for special education.

The SD Bureau of Finance and Management (BFM) brought this as the special education companion for SB 53. It had a similar path through both chambers and was also stripped of amendments in conference committee. The only difference is it passed after conference much stronger. It passed in the Senate 30-0 and in the House 60-4.

SB 55 – SoDakLiberty PostsRevise the General Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015.

The Bureau of Finance and Management (BFM) is responsible for this bill that must come every year. It was amended in Senate Appropriations and passed that committee 9-0 and the Senate floor 34-0. It had more amendments in House Appropriations and passed that committee 8-0 and the House floor 61-7. The Senate did not concur with the changes made in the House, forcing it to conference committee. The committee further amended the bill. It then passed the House 54-5 and the Senate 34-0.

I’ll let others that love creating spreadsheets and graphs blog about the actual numbers in this bill. But from browsing it what I find most troubling is what appears to be an expansion of state government though increasing FTE’s. Hopefully I can find time to blog more about this bill next week.

SB 91 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Make an appropriation to support the South Dakota need-based grant program and to declare an emergency.

This was amended by Senate Appropriations from $200,000 down to $1. It then passed the committee 8-0. It was amended on the Senate floor to give it an emergency clause and passed 34-0. It was amended from the $1 placeholder to $150,000 by House Appropriations and passed that committee 7-1. The House floor then amended it down to $2. I wasn’t sure why it was amended back down to $2, it had already been amended by House Appropriations, which was sufficient to force a conference if that is what was desired. The House passed the bill 57-9. In conference it was amended back up to $150,000. The Senate concurred 33-0 and the House concurred 60-6.

This appropriated funds for the Board of Regents to use for the South Dakota need-based grant fund. The $150,000 is $50,000 short of the original amount asked for.

SB 92 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Make an appropriation to support the South Dakota critical teaching needs scholarship program and to declare an emergency.

Sen Tim Rave (R, Dist 25) and Rep Justin Cronin (R, Dist 23) are the prime sponsors. This was amended by Senate Appropriations from $200,000 down to $1. It then passed the committee 8-0. It was amended on the Senate floor to give it an emergency clause and passed 34-0. It was amended from the $1 placeholder to $150,000 by House Appropriations and passed that committee 8-0. The House floor then amended it down to $2 and passed the bill 59-7. The bill then went to conference committee and was amended back up to $150,000. The new bill passed the Senate 33-0 and the House 62-3. Yes, this bill is almost a replica of what happened with SB 91.

This bill appropriates money for the Board of Regents to use for the South Dakota critical teaching needs scholarship program. It was only reduced down $50,000 from the original asking amount.

SB 109 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Establish a grant program for adult community residential services designed to reduce the risk of recidivism, to provide a report to the Legislature, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

Sen Larry Tidemann (R, Dist 7) and Rep Scott Munsterman (R, Dist 7) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed Senate Appropriations 8-0 after being amended. Before being amended, this bill appropriated $250,000 to fund the alternative care program being created by this bill. In addition, $4,000 of that money can be used for administration of the fund. The amendment changed the appropriated amount down to $1. It passed the Senate floor 30-2. This was amended in House Appropriations  from the $1 placeholder to $150,000. The House floor then amended it down to $2 and passed the bill 66-2. The conference committee took two times to get this one passed. They made some changes, including adding an emergency clause and changing the appropriated amount up to $200,00. That passed the House 67-1 and the Senate 31-3.

The true purpose of this grant program is explained in section 1 of the bill:

There is hereby established the alternative care program to be administered by the Unified Judicial System. The Unified Judicial System shall award grants to nonprofit entities within the state of South Dakota that provide indigent adults with extended residential alternative care programs designed to reduce the risk of recidivism. The grants shall be awarded for room and board costs for South Dakota residents of the program with a maximum award of thirty dollars per day per resident. Any grant award shall be distributed in quarterly installments.

It sounds like a good program. But I wonder if this was the right time to create another grant program…

SB 152 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Make an appropriation for certain costs related to mountain pine beetle suppression and to declare an emergency.

Sen Bruce Rampelberg (R, Dist 30) and Rep Mike Verchio (R, Dist 30) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed Senate Appropriations 8-0 after being amended. This appropriates $1,900,000 to continue the fight against the pine beetles. As usual the bill was amended down to $1 so the bill could advance. The bill passed the Senate floor 32-1. This was amended in House Appropriations  from the $1 placeholder to $500,000 and passed that committee 8-0. The House passed it 66-2. During conference it was amended up to $750,000. It then passed the Senate 32-0 and the House 65-1.

As an east-river born resident I really didn’t have much working knowledge of the pine beetle until last summer when I attended the Governor’s Ag Summit in Deadwood (its being held in Deadwood again this year). During that summit I was able to see the damage first hand and learn about the pine beetle. A large part of me still questions whether the state is fighting an unnecessary battle. Maybe there will be more about the pine beetle at this years summit (which I plan to attend).

SB 174 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Make an appropriation for the Ross Shaft at the Sanford Underground Research Facility and to declare an emergency.

The SD Office of the Governor asked for this bill. If anyone is bothering to read the part of my posts that follow the changes through the chambers I would keep your seat-belt on…  This bill passed Senate Appropriations 8-0 after being amended. This bill originally appropriated $3,950,000 to the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority for the purposes of making upgrades and improvements to the Ross Shaft at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. As usual the bill was amended down to $1 so the bill could advance. It then passed the Senate floor 31-2. This bill was amended in House Appropriations to remove all amendments. That restored the $3,950,000 to be appropriated. It was then amended again to remove the amendment that removed all amendments, thus restoring all of the amendments from before the previous amendment. (say that ten times fast!) It was then amended from the $1 placeholder to $2,000,000. Finally House Appropriations was done playing with the bill and passed it 8-0. It was then amended on the House floor to make the appropriation from the “employer’s investment in South Dakota’s future fund” instead of the general fund. That passed the House floor 63-5. Finally it was amended one last time by the conference committee. That amendment was to delete all previous amendments. So the bill was back to appropriating $3,950,000 from the general fund! That version of the bill passed the Senate 33-0 and the House 63-5.

Personally I think this is $4,000 that could have been better spent elsewhere. Let Sanford and other commercial sources pay the tab…

SB 179 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain provisions relating to record search fees in the Unified Judicial System.

The SD Chief Justice asked for this bill. This passed Senate Appropriations 7-1 and the Senate floor 31-0 and House Appropriations 8-0. This bill appears to increase the fee from $15 to $20. That extra $5 would go directly to the law enforcement officers’ training fund. It was then amended on the House floor to have $1 go to the general fund. It passed the House floor 57-9. Finally the conference committee got rid of the $1 provision added by the House. It also changed the date the new fee takes effect from 2017 to 2015. The Senate concurred 33-0 and the House concurred 62-4.

For anyone keeping track, this is one of many fee increases passed during the 2015 legislative session.

SB 190 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Clarify health coverage for applied behavior analysis, and to establish the Applied Behavior Analysis Provider Workgroup.

Sen Alan Solano (R, Dist 32) and Rep Scott Munsterman (R, Dist 7) are the prime sponsors. This bill was amended twice in Senate State Affairs and passed that committee 9-0. It then passed the Senate floor 35-0. It was further amended in House State Affairs. One of the big changes in House State Affairs was to change the maximum benefit for children up to age six from “$36,000″ to “$50,000″. House State Affairs passed the bill 12-0 and the House floor passed it 65-2. It then went through major amending (and amending) in the conference committee.

I do think the proponents in committee made the case that such changes need to be made. I also think it is just wrong that insurance companies are not covering ABA. But at the same time I still see this as a mandate. It should also be noted that this mandate only applies to grandfathered plans (ones not compliant with ACA), and even then it might not apply to all of those plans. This is not just a mandate, but it is a mandate that is targeted to a class of insurance that will keep shrinking. Proponents tried hard to make it sound like the bill isn’t a mandate. But, I will defer to one of my favorite Douglas Adams quotes as to whether this is a mandate: “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.”

I do have an interview setup with an ABA specialist in June to explain to me why this is not truly a mandate. I look forward to the interview. I do have empathy for the parents that are having problems getting access to ABA for their children.

HB 1110 – SoDakLiberty PostsIncrease the number of judges in the Second and Seventh Judicial Circuits.

Rep Brian Gosch (R, Dist 32) and Sen Tim Rave (R, Dist 25) are the prime sponsors. Here is what the bill originally appropriated before House Appropriations amended the amounts down to a dollar:

  • $227,216 for the creation of a circuit court judgeship in the Second Judicial Circuit. $213,571 of that can be used for personal services and benefits. $13,645 can be used for operational expenses. 2.0 FTE for a circuit judge position and support staff in the Second Judicial Circuit.
  • $227,216 for the creation of a circuit court judgeship in the Seventh Judicial circuit. $213,571 of that can be used for personal services and benefits. $13,645 can be used for operational expenses. 2.0 FTE for a circuit judge position and support staff in the Seventh Judicial Circuit.

The bill passed House Appropriations 8-0. It passed the House floor 59 to 10. Senate Appropriations then amended the amounts to $2. This version passed Senate Appropriations 9-0 and the Senate floor 30-3. It was then hoghoused in the conference committee. The bill no longer appropriates any money here. Instead it amends § 16-6-1 to add 1 Second Circuit Judge and 1 Seventh Circuit Judge. That passed the Senate 30-3 and the House 48-4.

HB 1140 – SoDakLiberty PostsIncrease the crimes and lookback period to enhance the penalty for violating a protection order.

Rep Peggy Gibson (D, Dist 22) and Sen Angie Buhl O’Donnell (D, Dist 15) are the prime sponsors. This bill was amended in House Judiciary and passed that committee 13-0. It then passed the House floor 54-15. It was then amended in Senate Judiciary to remove all amendments.  It passed Senate Judiciary 7-0 and the Senate floor 34-0. The conference committee then recommended the bill be amended to remove the Senate Judiciary amendment. That passed the Senate floor 33-0 and the House floor 66-2.

The lookback period in this bill changes from 5 years to 10 years. The part of the bill that kept getting amended was what types of assault should be included.

HB 1147 – SoDakLiberty PostsIncrease the amounts of the annual awards given to recipients of the South Dakota opportunity scholarship

The SD Office of the Governor asked for this bill, and it was apparently one of Daugaard’s pet bills this year. The bill passed House Appropriations 9-0, the House floor 65-3, and Senate Appropriations 8-1. The Senate floor amended it to add award amounts back in for before July 1, 2015. If I understand it correctly, that means only those getting the money awards for the first time starting this fall will get the increased funds; and those already using these awards will continue to use the old amounts. That passed the Senate 27-8. It went to conference and nothing was done with it. It then passed the Senate 32-0 and the House 65-3.

This would add three hundred dollars for years one, two, and three students. Six hundred is added for fourth year students, or only three hundred if they did their previous years outside SD. This bill would also change the total amount of scholarship money from $5,000 to $6,500. I think scholarships are great. But even this little bit of money could probably be better used in other areas.

HB 1190 – SoDakLiberty PostsMake an appropriation for community-based provider workforce improvement and to declare an emergency.

The Office of the Governor asked for this bill. Here is what the bill originally appropriated before House Appropriations amended the amounts down to a dollar:

  • $2,926,732 from the general fund and $1,863,190 in federal funds to the Department of Social Services for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.
  • $1,041,240 from the general fund and $1,041,411 in federal funds to the Department of Human Services for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.
  • $157,028 from the general fund and $79,791 in federal funds to the Department of Corrections for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.

The bill passed House Appropriations 8-0 and the House floor 65-4. It was then amended in Senate Appropriations from $1 to $2 and passed that committee 9-0.It was then amended on the Senate floor with these amounts:

  • $1,560,520 from the general fund and $404,312 in federal funds to the Department of Social Services for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.
  • $1,041,240 from the general fund and $1,041,411 in federal funds to the Department of Human Services for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.
  • $157,028 from the general fund and $79,791 in federal funds to the Department of Corrections for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.

That passed the Senate floor 33-0. The conference committee then further messed with the amount going to DSS so the final amounts look like this:

  • $1,655,877 from the general fund and $506,140 in federal funds to the Department of Social Services for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.
  • $1,041,240 from the general fund and $1,041,411 in federal funds to the Department of Human Services for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.
  • $157,028 from the general fund and $79,791 in federal funds to the Department of Corrections for the purpose described in section 1 of this Act.

The amount that would go to DSS seemed to be the only part of the bill that needed negotiation. The Senate concurred 33-0 and the House concurred 67-0.

The purpose of this bill was stated in section 1:

The moneys appropriated in this Act shall be allocated to community-based providers throughout South Dakota to enhance the providers’ ability to hire and retain direct care staff within their facilities located in South Dakota.

HB 1191 – SoDakLiberty PostsMake an appropriation for the Jobs for America’s Graduates program and to declare an emergency.

The SD Office of the Governor asked for this bill. This was amended in House Appropriations to change the appropriated amount down to $1, from $925,000. It then passed House appropriations 9-0 and the House floor 62-5 (after having a slight wording amendment). Senate Appropriations then amended the amount up to $250,000 and passed through that committee 9-0. The Senate passed it 31-4. After going through conference committee both Houses concurred with the $250,000 set by Senate Appropriations. The Senate concurred 33-0 and the House concurred 60-8.

This bill provides funds for the Jobs for America’s Graduates program.

HB 1192 – SoDakLiberty PostsMake an appropriation for the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat and to declare an emergency

The SD Office of the Governor asked for this bill. This was amended to change the appropriated amount down to $1, from $1,500,000. It then passed House appropriations 9-0 and the House floor 52-15. Senate Appropriations amended it up to $500,000. Also it added this interesting provision: “The funds appropriated in section 1 of this Act shall be for the purpose of program operations and may not be added to an endowment.” That passed Senate Appropriations 9-0 and the Senate floor 30-5. The conference committee amended the appropriated amount down to $350,000. The Senate concurred 31-2 and the House concurred 53-15.

Each dollar spent from this fund must match private contributions. I am an advocate of conservation and improving wildlife habitat. But I don’t really think this should have been a priority this year. Instead of using matching State funds, I would rather see the private organizations step up their efforts to work on wildlife habitat (and predator) issues without taxpayer dollars.

HB 1208 – SoDakLiberty PostsAppropriate money for the ordinary expenses of the legislative, judicial, and executive departments of the state, the expenses of state institutions, interest on the public debt, and for common schools.

This of course is the big appropriation bill. I’m not going to attempt to go through this bill at this time. Instead I will say that the FY 2016 budget totals $4.3 billion. Here is part of Daugaard’s press release about the bill:

House Bill 1208 provides for the following ongoing increases in FY16:

  • Two percent increase for education,
  • Up to 2.5 percent for medical providers, and
  • Two percent inflation and two percent market value increases for state employees.

Under the General Appropriations Act, education will account for the largest portion of general fund spending – 45 percent – in FY16.

Too bad that 2% increase for education was partly illusion…

HB 1225 – SoDakLiberty PostsProhibit the unauthorized commercial use of a personality’s right of publicity and provide a civil remedy therefor.

Rep Elizabeth May (R, Dist 27) and Sen Jim Bradford (D, Dist 27) are the prime sponsors. This bill had a major amendment changing wording around in House Judiciary and passed that committee 12-0. I had apprehensions about this bill due to its ties to the MPAA. However the amended version of the bill doesn’t seem to raise any red flags for me. And it does seem to protect a persons likeness from being used commercially without permission in SD. It is an interesting bill for sure. The bill passed the House floor 66-2. It barely made it through Senate Judiciary with a vote of 4-3. The Senate floor passed it 29-6.

I was happy to see Rep May and Sen Bradford were able to get this passed. This bill was passed in part because of Russel Means (that is a post for a different day). Russel Means was an interesting person who I always respected (even though I disagreed with a few things he said and did over the years).

HB 1228 – SoDakLiberty PostsEstablish an obligation recovery center.

Rep Justin Cronin (R, Dist 23) is the prime sponsor. This bill was originally titled “Establish the state debt collection office”. I guess some legislators felt “obligation recovery center” sounded much nicer…  This was a hoghouse vehicle bill. The Senate version of this bill (SB 59 –SoDakLiberty Posts) was tabled. This bill was filled with the language the Department of Revenue wants. The hoghoused bill passed House Appropriations 8-1. It was amended on the House floor and passed 58-11. This bill was watered down quite a bit in Senate Appropriations and passed 5-4. The Senate floor passed it 18-17. The House floor did not concur with the Senate amendments, and even failed a motion to reconsider. The conference committee further amended the bill. The Senate concurred 19-15 and the House concurred 46-23.

I realize the bill was amended so it wouldn’t have to meet the 2/3 threshold, but I still feel such a massive growth of government should have required more than a simple majority to pass. This is a bill I am working on a separate post for.

A look at the 8 joint resolutions taken up in the 2015 SD legislature

March 18, 2015 Comments off
Art within the SD State Capital building. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

Art within the SD State Capital building. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

So far I’ve looked at the  36 Commemorations passed by the SD House, the 29 Commemorations passed by the SD Senate, and the 17 Concurrent Resolutions that were taken up by the SD legislature during the 2015 session. It is time to look at the 6 Joint Resolutions submitted to the SD House and the 2 Joint Resolutions submitted to the SD Senate during the 2015 SD legislative session.

A joint resolution is much closer to an actual piece of legislation than a commemoration or a Concurrent Resolution. Here is the definition of a joint resolution from the Joint Rules manual:

A joint resolution contains matters of legislation only. A joint resolution may be used to refer a matter for referendum to the people, to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot at the next general election, to ratify proposed amendments to the United States Constitution, or to grant a water right pursuant to § 46-5-20.1;

Basically a joint resolution is something that should be paid attention to with the same scrutiny as a bill because it actually has an action.

Here are the eight joint resolutions submitted this year and what their final disposition was. I’ve added a thought or two for each resolution. But I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at these, for those that actually passed there will likely be future posts dealing with them.

HJR 1001 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Making formal application to Congress to call an Article V convention of the states for the sole purpose of proposing a federal balanced budget amendment.

Rep Jim Stalzer (R, Dist 11) and Sen Ernie Otten (R, Dist 6) are the prime sponsors. This JR passed House State Affairs 9-3, the House floor 39-30, and Senate State Affairs 5-3. It then failed on the Senate floor by a vote of 17-15 (19 aye votes were needed). It then passed a vote to reconsider 19-14 and passed the Senate floor 19-13. So now South Dakota has officially called for an Article V convention.

My House State Affairs committee post for Jan 26 explains why I opposed this joint resolution. But basically an Article V convention has far more risks than potential gains. Well, if an Article V convention does become a reality it should make for some interesting blogging (I had to find some sort of bright side!).

HJR 1002 – SoDakLiberty PostsMaking a formal application to the President of the United States, that the President grant a presidential pardon to Peter L. Larson.

Rep Mike Verchio (R, Dist 30) and Sen Bruce Rampelberg (R, Dist 30) are the prime sponsors. The only resistance to this joint resolution was two nay votes on the House floor.

I do agree that Mr Larson was treated unfairly by the federal government. But I do wonder if this should have been done as a concurrent resolution. I also feel there are numerous cases of SD citizens being treated unfairly by the federal government. I wish something could be done to help all of the SD citizens instead of singling one out.

HJR 1003 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Proposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election an amendment to Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to the authority of the Board of Regents.

Rep Mark Mickelson (R, Dist 13)  and Sen Tim Rave (R, Dist 25) are the prime sponsors. The only opposition to this joint resolution was one nay vote on the House floor.

This resolution would put the four votechs directly under the control of the legislature, if it passes on the ballot. I think this idea has some merits, mostly because of the odd way tech schools are attached to K-12 education but also interact (poorly) with the Board of Regents. But I also fear this may cause a large expansion of state government to implement if the Constitutional Amendment passes. It should be an interesting amendment to blog about during the next election.

But I don’t really think this was as much about tech schools, as I think it was about building political capital for Rep Mickelson. It was quite obvious that Mickelson made tech schools a top issue in the 2015 legislative session. I believe he may be using this as a means to propel a possible Governor run in 2018. All he needs to do is keep promoting issues such as this over the next few years to build his political capital.

HJR 1004 – SoDakLiberty PostsProposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election an amendment to Article III, section 5 of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to legislative redistricting.

Rep Peggy Gibson (D, Dist 22) and Sen Bernie Hunhoff (D, Dist 18) are the prime sponsors. It made no traction and was killed in House State Affairs by deferring it to the 41st legislative day. The vote to defer it was 10-2.

This was an interesting idea to change the redistricting process in SD. The bipartisan redistricting committee formed by this amendment would not have included any current state legislators. I think this might have been a good change. Senate State Affairs shooting this idea down without letting it be heard on the House floor makes it look like the party in charge wants to keep redistricting things in a way that keeps them in charge.

I do think there were possible problems with the joint resolution. But at the same time I wish the idea had been allowed to be debated on the House floor and some possible problems with the amendment could be worked out. It really makes the Republicans in power look petty that they do not want a bipartisan redistricting commission.

HJR 1005 – SoDakLiberty PostsDesignating Oglala Lakota County as the new name of Shannon County.

Rep Kevin Killer (D, Dist 27) and Sen Jim Bradford (D, Dist 27) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed House State Affairs 12-0, the House floor 64-5, Senate State Affairs 8-0, and finally the Senate floor 32-3. The voters of Shannon County already decided they wanted to change the name to Oglala Lakota County. This resolution was just a formality.

In the future this type of resolution will no longer be needed if there is a county name change. SB 66 (SoDakLiberty Posts) was signed into law by Governor Daugaard earlier this month. With SB 66 signed into law, now the county rename process is streamlined and no longer needs to go through the legislature. More importantly, now if the voters of a county choose to rename their county the costs of that renaming process must be paid for by that county. I believe the little opposition to Shannon County being renamed was because it will cost the state money to implement the change.

HJR 1006 – SoDakLiberty PostsTo apply for a Convention of the States under Article V of the Constitution of the United States.

Rep Isaac Latterell (R, Dist 6) and Sen Dan Lederman (R, Dist 16) are the prime sponsors. This was killed by the House State Affairs, which it sent it to the 41st legislative day by a vote of 10-2. Since HJR 1001 had already passed the House State Affairs committee this bill really wasn’t necessary. Either joint resolution could have passed and it would do the same thing. I have a feeling some people will be sorely surprised when they find out the single topic application submitted in HJR 1001 won’t keep a convention to a single topic.

SJR 1SoDakLiberty Posts – Making formal application to Congress to call an Article V convention of the states for the sole purpose of proposing a federal balanced budget amendment.

Sen Ernie Otten (R, Dist 6) and Rep Jim Stalzer (R, Dist 11) are the prime sponsors. This was tabled by Senate State Affairs. It was not needed because the House version of the joint resolution had been passed.

SJR 2 SoDakLiberty Posts – Proposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election a new section to Article XI of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to the imposition of an education franchise tax on profits of corporations and dedication of the revenue therefrom.

Sen Bernie Hunhoff (D, Dist 18) and Rep Thomas Brunner (R, Dist 29). This is a joint resolution that was thankfully tabled 7-2 by Senate State Affairs. This would have referred to the voters an “education franchise tax by imposing a tax on the profits of corporations doing business in South Dakota”. One thing SD does not need is a corporate income tax.

A brief look at the 17 concurrent resolutions before the SD legislature in 2015

March 18, 2015 3 comments
Art within the SD State Capital building. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

Art within the SD State Capital building. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

A couple of weeks ago I noted the 36 Commemorations passed by the SD House and 29 Commemorations passed by the SD Senate during the 2015 legislative session. I thought it was time to look at how the Concurrent Resolutions fared this legislative session. There were 9 concurrent resolutions introduced in the House and 8 concurrent resolutions introduced in the Senate. Two of the House concurrent resolutions failed and none of the Senate concurrent resolutions failed.

A concurrent resolution has a little bit more importance than a commemoration. Here is the definition of a concurrent resolution from the Joint Rules manual:

A concurrent resolution expresses the opinion or a principle of the Legislature not having the force of law. A concurrent resolution shall only be used to authorize interim studies, joint rules, sessions or committees, to instruct a department of state government, or to petition federal agencies;

I would say a concurrent resolution is a way for the Legislature to communicate with another organization or body.

Here are all of the concurrent resolutions introduced this year and their final disposition. I’ve added a thought or two for each resolution. But I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at these, they really don’t have the same impact as bills do.

HCR 1001 SoDakLiberty Posts – Recognizing the difference between the taxes and fees levied by the State of South Dakota.

This is a concurrent resolution I actually did a whole post onRep Jim Bolin (R, Dist 16) and Sen Dan Lederman were the sponsors of this resolution. Apparently this resolution was brought forth because some politicians hate it when they get attacked for passing fee increases, that are then called tax increases by many of that follow what happens in Pierre. Plus, I think the true reason for passing this resolution was of the massive infrastructure tax hikes that were in the spotlight this legislative session. The resolution passed in the House 57-10 and in the Senate 24-11. My final thought on this resolution is that a tax and fee feel the same from a taxpayer perspective…

HCR 1002SoDakLiberty Posts – Supporting the continued operation of the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery.

Rep Fred Romkema (R, Dist 31) and Sen Bob Ewing (R, Dist 31) were the sponsors of this one. This one passed both chambers without opposition. This basically urges the federal congressional delegation, federal agencies, and state agencies involved with the hatchery to continue supporting it.

HCR 1003SoDakLiberty Posts – Urging Congress and the President of the Unites States to abolish the United States Department of Education.

Rep Jim Bolin (R, Dist 16) and Sen Betty Olson (R, Dist 28) were the prime sponsors of this bill. It passed through the House 48-20 and barely passed the Senate by a vote of 19-15. Actually this was the one part of the campaign from Senator Rounds that I agree with. Getting rid of the massive bureaucracy from the Federal Department of Education would allow those valuable tax dollars to actually be spent on education. I would think that anyone that actually cares about teachers and public education would want to get rid of this misguided bureaucracy. Sadly that will never happen. Never-mind the fact that education has not improved since the time the Department of Education was formed.

HCR 1004 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Addressed to the United States Supreme Court setting forth certain facts and expressly enumerating the grievances of the People of the State of South Dakota, through their elected representatives, with that Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and its progeny and calling for that Court to now protect the intrinsic, natural, fundamental rights of the children of our State and nation and the intrinsic, natural, fundamental rights of their pregnant mothers in their relationship with their children, and the mothers’ health by reconsidering and overturning the court’s decision in Roe.

Rep Roger Hunt (R, Dist 25) and Sen Tim Rave (R, Dist 25) are the prime sponsors. This passed through the House 60-10 and the Senate 25-9. This is a very, very, very, very, very, very, long resolution (did I say very?). Actually the resolution does go into some areas as to why Roe v. Wade should go before the Supreme Court again. Personally I don’t think the decision would go differently. But there were many problems with how the original case went and even those who agree with the decision should want SCOTUS to take it up again.

HCR 1005 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Urging Congress to propose the regulation freedom amendment to the United States Constitution.

Rep Jim Stalzer (R, Dist 11) and Sen Jenna Haggar (R, Dist 10) are the prime sponsors. This resolution passed through the House 56-14 and the Senate 25-8. This resolution asks for Congress to pass an amendment I actually agree with. Here is the actual wording to the regulation freedom amendment:

Whenever one quarter of the Members of the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate transmit to the President their written declaration of opposition to a proposed federal regulation, it shall require a majority vote of the House and Senate to adopt that regulation.

HCR 1006 – SoDakLiberty PostsTo request that a plan be developed for a state ethics commission.

Rep Peggy Gibson (D, Dist 22) and Sen Bernie Hunhoff (D, Dist 18) are the prime sponsors. Sadly this resolution failed on the House floor 16-53. I think restoring the state ethics commission would go a long way to restore people’s faith in how the state government operates. During testimony it was mentioned the previous state ethics commission was used as a political weapon against certain people. I think lessons learned from those days can be used to create a new commission that can be non-partisan. Sadly we won’t know. This was one more sign that those in power in Pierre don’t want anything to change.

HCR 1007 – SoDakLiberty PostsOpposing the EPA’s guidelines to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants in a manner that will cause economic harm.

Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10) and Sen Bruce Rampelberg (R, Dist 30) were the prime sponsors. It passed the House floor 60-9 and the Senate floor 32-0. I found it odd the Democrats on the House floor chose to oppose this bill. Right or wrong, SD is very reliant upon fuel-fired power at this time. Shutting down that power would have severe and drastic repercussions for the affordability of electricity to the people of South Dakota. I don’t think anyone disagrees that in the long-term coal and fossil-fuels have to go. But allowing the EPA to overstep its legal authority and force economic disaster upon the state is not an end to that means.

HCR 1008 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Urging Congress and the President to recognize tribal identification cards as a valid form of identification for all official purposes.

Rep Kevin Killer (D, Dist 27) and Sen Troy Heinert (D, Dist 26) are the prime sponsors. It passed the House 49-20 and the Senate 31-2. Basically this is asking Congress and the President to recognize tribal identification cards as REAL ID compliant. I don’t really like REAL ID, but I don’t see a problem with the tribes wanting to have their ID’s be recognized so they can get a state or federal issued ID.

HCR 1009 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Designating 2015 as the “Year of Remembrance for the Centennial Since the Commencement of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923” in South Dakota and urging Congress and the President of the United States to formally and consistently recognize and reaffirm the historical truth that the atrocities committed against the Armenian, Greek, and other Christians living in their historical homelands in Anatolia constituted genocide and to work towards equitable, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.

Rep Steve Hickey (R, Dist 9) is the prime sponsor of this bill. Notice I didn’t mention a Senate prime sponsor. That is because Hickey failed to get a Senator to actually sign on as the prime sponsor. So Sen Jim Bradford (D, Dist 27) ended up being the Senate prime only because his name was first in the alphabetical listing. The resolution passed the House 51-17. It was then killed in the Senate by a table vote of 30-4. The lesson here is to make sure there is a Prime Sponsor in each chamber to get a resolution passed.

SCR 1 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Commending the improvements to health care in South Dakota achieved by the system of care established by the community-based Mission: Lifeline initiative.

Sen Tim Rave (R, Dist 25) and Rep Jean Hunhoff (R, Dist 18) were the prime sponsors. This passed through both chambers without opposition. Just a nice commemoration for the volunteers of the Mission: Lifeline task force.

SCR 2 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Endorsing the thirty-first anniversary of sister state relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan), Taiwan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Sen Tim Rave (R, Dist 25) and Rep Roger Hunt (R, Dist 25) are the prime sponsors. It passed the Senate 35-0 and the House 64-3. This is the only resolution I wish had not passed, and I feel some legislators will regret supporting some day. II have no problem with endorsing Taiwan. But I do have a problem with TPP. I wrote a post explaining why the SD Senate passed a bad resolution. Basically TPP is NOT a trade agreement. If passed it would allow a lot of regulation through this trade agreement. These regulations could not be stopped by US Congress or the SD legislature. Sadly our federal congressional delegation is pushing for TPP because it would benefit agricultural trade. I do agree portions of TPP would do that, but at what cost…

SCR 3 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Recognizing the mutual benefit between health care sharing and health savings accounts.

Sen Phil Jensen (R, Dist 33) and Rep Scott Craig (R, Dist 33) are the prime sponsors. It passed through the Senate 25-8 and the House 59-8. I really liked this resolution. It took aim at what I feel were among the worse changes to come from ACA.

SCR 4 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Urging Congress to support equity and sales tax fairness.

Sen Deb Peters (R, Dist 9) and Rep Justin Cronin (R, Dist 23) are the prime sponsors. It passed the Senate 34-0 and the House 64-5. This resolution pushes for the passing of the Marketplace Fairness Act; aka the Internet Sales Tax. I wrote about this act two years ago. I also noted that both SD Senators voted to pass the internet sales tax at that time. After I am recovered from the legislative session I have a series of posts I plan on doing about the MPA. Having worked with some Amazon sellers that are complying with a smaller version of this I have already noticed major problems. This was not a good concept for a conservative legislature to support.

SCR 5 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Supporting a stronger South Dakota-China relationship.

Sen Dan Lederman (R, Dist 16) and Rep Jim Bolin (R, Dist 16) are the prime sponsors. It passed through the Senate 28-4 and the House 57-11. I know some legislators opposed this bill because of the government of China. But I think building a relationship with China is a good thing. The best way to spread open markets with China is to build a good cultural relationship with them. Plus I was happy to see this resolution didn’t mention TPP.

SCR 6 – SoDakLiberty PostsTo direct the Department of Education to ensure South Dakota students are well-versed in civics and government.

Sen Deb Soholt (R, Dist 14) and Rep Jacqueline Sly (R, Dist 33) are the prime sponsors. It passed through both chambers with no opposition. This is a resolution I agree with. Had it been done through actual legislation I feel it would have been overstepping local control. But resolution basically says the state Dept of Ed should ensure SD students are taking a U.S. Government course that covers the contents of the U.S. Citizenship Civic’s Test. It is left vague enough that I don’t see it as an actual mandate on local school districts.

SCR 7 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Commending and recognizing the numerous contributions made by South Dakota’s social workers.

Sen Angie Buhl O’Donnell (D, Dist 15) and Rep Julie Bartling (D, Dist 21) are the prime sponsors. This passed through the Senate 35-0 and the House 66-2. I really didn’t pay attention to this one. I don’t see a problem with this resolution, but I wonder if some of the social conservatives that voted yes to this resolution actually read it…

SCR 8 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Condemning the growing anti-Semitism in certain countries and extending an invitation to Jewish families from around the world to South Dakota.

Sen Dan Lederman (R, Dist 16) and Rep Jim Bolin (R, Dist 16) are the prime sponsors. It passed through both chambers with no opposition. Another one I really didn’t pay attention to. But I see no problem with it.

A look at the massive roads and bridges funding bill signed into law by Governor Daugaard

March 17, 2015 3 comments
Senator Vehle speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/11/15.

Senator Vehle speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/11/15.

Today SD Governor Dennis Daugaard signed the massive roads and bridges funding bill into law. During the legislative session I’ve mostly avoided blogging too much about the bill. That is partly due to the fact there were two versions of the bill to begin with, one was Senate Vehle’s proposal (SB 1) and the other was Governor Daugaard’s proposal (HB 1131). Daugaard’s version of the bill was killed. But then the contents of that bill were used replace the contents of SB1 via hoghousing. SB 1 went through many changes both in committees and on the floors of both chambers. Now that the bill can no longer be changed it is worth looking at what is actually in it.

SB 1 – SoDakLiberty PostsRevise certain taxes and fees to fund improvements to public roads and bridges in South Dakota, to increase the maximum speed limit on interstate highways, and to declare an emergency.

The bill has 31 sections. Here is a brief summary of what each section appears to do (this is cut down a lot from my original draft).

Section 1 – Section 1 creates a local bridge improvement grant fund. This fund can be used by any local government to construct, reconstruct, or repair bridges. It will be up to the Transportation Commission to determine who gets the grant money. In order to receive the grant a county must have “adopted and annually updated its county highway and bridge improvement plan pursuant to the provisions of section 3 of this Act”. The county must also have imposed a county wheel tax per § 32-5A-1.

For those unfamiliar with the wheel tax, it currently allows counties to tax each vehicle $4 per wheel up to a total of $16 (basically up to four wheels). If a county has not implemented this already existing tax the state will not help them out with this new grant money. Spoiler alert! Section 25 of this act actually increases the wheel tax from $4 per wheel to $5 per wheel. It also changes the total amount from $16 (four wheels) to $60 (12 wheels).

Section 2 – Section 2 authorizes the Transportation Commission to create rules (pursuant to Chapter 1-26) to decide how local governments will apply for and how they will choose which projects will get the grant money.

Section 3 – Section 3 authorizes the Transportation Commission to create rules (pursuant to Chapter 1-26) to set the requirements for a “county highway and bridge improvement plan that details proposed county highway and bridge improvement projects in a county for the next five years.” Any county that doesn’t create the plan will not be allowed to receive the grant funds created in section 1 of this act.

Section 4 – This section amends § 32-11-34, Local government highway and bridge fund.

This section of the bill states that every quarter $1,750,000 will be transferred from the Local government highway and bridge fund to the newly created local bridge improvement grant fund. Currently the money in the older Local government highway and bridge fund is allocated to the counties and municipalities as laid out in § 32-11-35. Now the change in this bill will take $1.75 million out of that fund each quarter and place it in the new grant fund created in Section 1 of this act. I wonder if there will be some municipalities and counties unhappy with this change. It could lead to fewer funds for counties and municipalities that choose not to play by the rules set forth by the Transportation Commission. It also seems to be a way to co-opt funds meant for all the counties and municipalities into areas favored by the Transportation Commission.

Section 5 – Section five changes the vehicle excise tax (§ 32-5B-1) from its current 3% to the new rate of 4%. That is actually quite a large increase.

Section 6 – Section six amends § 32-5B-1.4. It just makes sure that if a dealer licenses a vehicle for use at the dealership that they also pay the new 4% excise tax.

Section 7 – This is the section where many of the new gas taxes are implemented and amends § 10-47B-4. Here are the changes in this section:

  • Motor fuel (except ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, biodiesel, biodiesel blends, and aviation gasoline) has its tax increased from $0.22 to $0.28 per gallon. This is the six cent increase being reported by the media.
  • Biodiesel and biodiesel blends are added to the exemptions in this section. Previously it was only ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, and aviation gasoline listed as exempt.
  • Special fuel (except jet fuel) has its tax increased from $0.22 to $0.28 per gallon.
  • Ethyl alcohol and methyl alcohol has its tax increased from $0.08 to $0.14 per gallon.
  • A new section of gas tax is created for biodiesel and biodiesel blends ant it is taxed at $0.28, unless it meets the requirements of Section 10 of this act (that is coming up).

Section 8 – This section just sets the fuel excise tax rate for motor fuel and special fuel at $.28 per gallon. This section was used in conjunction with Section 7.

Section 9 – This section sets the fuel excise tax rate for ethyl alcohol and methyl alcohol fuel to $.14 per gallon. This section was used in conjunction with Section 7.

Section 10 – This expands upon the gas tax imposed on biodiesel or biodiesel blends. It says the tax “shall be reduced by two cents per gallon in the quarter after biodiesel production facilities in South Dakota reach a name plate capacity of at least twenty million gallons per year and fully produce at least ten million gallons of biodiesel within one year as determined by the secretary of revenue.” So if enough biodiesel is created in the state there will be a two-cent reduction in the tax. But then it goes on to say that the two-cent reduction will be  “repealed in the quarter after thirty-five million gallons of taxed biodiesel and biodiesel blended fuel are sold”. I wonder how the biodiesel industry feels about the short-term and slight tax-break. Personally I think it complicates things and biodiesel should just count as normal motor fuel…

Section 11 – This section of the act repeals old session laws that deal with the fuel excise tax rate and with biodiesel.

Section 12 – Section 12 increases the fees for noncommercial motor vehicles as set in § 32-5-6. Here are the increases:

  • Vehicles 2,000 lbs or less goes from a $30 fee to a $36 fee.
  • Vehicles 2,001 lbs to 4,000 lbs goes from a $60 fee to a $72 fee.
  • Vehicles 4,001 lbs to 6,000 lbs goes from a $90 fee to a $108 fee.
  • Vehicles over 6,000 lbs goes from a $120 fee to a $140 fee.

Section 13 – Section thirteen changes the fees for noncommercial vehicles other than automobiles, pickup trucks, or vans (§ 32-5-6.3). Here are the increases:

  • Vehicles 8,000 lbs or less goes from a $100 fee to a $120 fee.
  • For vehicles over 8,000 lbs there is an incremental fee every 2,000 lbs. That fee goes from $10 to a fee of $12 per 2,000 lbs.
  • Currently vehicles over 20,000 lbs the license fee is 60% of the fee that would be for commercial vehicles of the equivalent weight. This act says any vehicles from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, will now pay 70% of the fee that would be charged for an equivalent commercial vehicle. From July 1, 2016, on it would go up to 80% of the fee that would be charged for an equivalent commercial vehicle.

That seems to be a large increase for the vehicles over 20,000 lbs. One thing I wonder though. This act was signed with an emergency clause saying it will take effect on April 1, 2015. The new tax for vehicles over 20,000 does not take effect until July 1 per this section. This section also removes the language for the current 60% rate on those vehicles. Does that mean that any of these vehicles that get their license tabs renewed in April, May, and June of this year don’t have to pay the fee?

Section 14 – Section 14 increases the license fee for noncommercial motor homes (§ 32-5-6.1). Here are the fee increases:

  • Motor homes 6,000 lbs or less goes from a $90 fee to a $108 fee.
  • Motor homes 6,001 lbs to 8,000 lbs goes from a $120 fee to a $144 fee.
  • Motor homes from 8,001 to 10,000 lbs goes from a $150 fee to a $188 fee.
  • Motor homes over 10,000 lbs are have a fee of $30 for every 2,000 lbs over 10,000 lbs. That fee is raised to $36.

Section 15 – Section 15 increases the fees for recreational vehicles and noncommercial trailers and semitrailers (§ 32-5-8). Here are the increases:

  • 1,000 lbs or less goes from a fee of $15 to a fee of $18.
  • 1,001 lbs to 2,000 lbs goes from a fee $30 to a fee of $36
  • 2,001 lbs to 3,000 lbs goes from a fee of $45 to a fee of $54
  • 3,001 lbs to 4,000 lbs goes from a fee of $60 to a fee of $72
  • 4,001 lbs to 5,000 lbs goes from a fee of $75 to a fee of $90
  • 5,001 lbs to 6,000 lbs goes from a fee of $90 to a fee of $108
  • 6,001 lbs to 7,000 lbs goes from a fee of $105 to a fee of $126
  • 7,001 lbs to 8,000 lbs goes from a fee of $120 to a fee of $144
  • 8,001 lbs to 9,000 lbs goes from a fee of $135 to a fee of $162
  • 9,001 lbs to 10,000 lbs goes from a fee of $150 to a fee of $180
  • Each 1,000 lbs over 10,000 lbs current gets of a fee of $15 per 1,000 lbs. That fee is increased to $18 per 1,000 lbs.

Section 16 – This section changes the licenses fees for motorcycles (§ 32-5-9). Here are the increases:

  • Motorcycles with a piston displacement of less than 350 cubic cm goes from a fee of $14.50 to a fee of $18
  • Currently motorcycles with a piston displacement over 350 cubic cm has a fee of $17, now motorcycles with a piston displacement from 350 cubic cm to 1,000 cubic cm will have a fee of $21.
  • Motorcycles with a piston displacement of greater than 1,000 cubic cm will have a fee of $24

An interesting side note: the legislature passed SB 94 this year, which imposes a license fee on electric-powered motorcycles. This act also amends (§ 32-5-9). Does that mean the LRC has to fix the language of SB 94 before it can take effect this summer? The Governor signed SB 94 into law first, but SB 1 takes effect first.

Section 17 – Section 17 increases the fee for the issuance of metal numerical license plates to dealer (§ 32-6B-21) from $84 per year to $101 per year.

Section 18 – Section 18 increases the fee for the issue of metal numerical license plates to motorcycle dealers and trailer dealers (§ 32-6B-23) from $20 per plate to $24 per plate.

Section 19 – Section 19 increases the fee for the issue of metal numerical license plates to an auction agency (§ 32-6B-36.3) from a fee of $84 yearly to a fee of $101 yearly.

Section 20 – This section changes the county levy to match federal aid to roads and bridges (§ 10-12-13). This is an odd one that tiers counties. Currently counties can levy an annual property tax not to exceed $1.20 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. Now three tiers are setup for counties depending upon the counties total taxable valuation:

  • A levy not to exceed $1.20 per $1,000 of taxable valuation if the counties total taxable valuation is $1,000,000,000 or less.
  • A levy not to exceed $0.90 per $1,000 of taxable valuation if the counties total taxable valuation is more than $1,000,000,000 but less than $2,000,000,000
  • A levy not to exceed $0.60 per $1,000 of taxable valuation if the counties total taxable valuation is $2,000,000,000 or more.

That seems like it would provide fewer funds for larger counties. But this section of the bill also removes the need for matching federal aid grants to be used. Removing that provision means the counties can repair their infrastructure with local control and potentially much cheaper.

This bill also makes the levy exempt from the property tax relief set forth in Chapter 10-13 if Section 21 of this Act (coming up next) is followed. But each year after a tax is implemented it can be raised “by applying the growth and the index factor pursuant to the provisions of § 10-13-35.”

Section 21 – Section 21 says that a county may pass a resolution to implement a tax as laid out in Section 20 above by a 2/3 vote on or before July 15th. Most importantly the increased tax levy is subject to the referendum process, so voters can stop a property tax increase if they want to. I like the ability of the tax increase to be stopped by the voters, it ensure the county truly makes the case for higher tax levies.

Section 22 – Section 22 allows the voters of organized townships to authorize an annual property tax levy not  to exceed $0.50 per $1,000 of taxable valuation for the “secondary road capital improvement fund for projects and purposes as defined in section 23 of this Act”.

This secondary road capital improvements tax levy is in addition to the levy already authorized by § 10-12-28, which currently limits township levy to no more than $3.00 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. This new levy is also in addition to the levy set forth in § 31-13-22, which currently limits township snow removal reserve fund levy to no more than $0.60 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.

If all three of these levies are added together it means a township can levy no more than $4.10 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.

Section 23 – This section authorizes townships to create the secondary road capital improvement fund used in Section 22 of this act. The fund can be used for “the purpose of constructing, reconstructing, repairing, and maintaining secondary roads, bridges, and culverts under the jurisdiction of the township board of supervisors.”

Section 24 – Section 24 expands the scope of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Here are some bullet points for what Section 24 does:

  • The DOT has to establish “performance standards designed to measure the overall condition of the highways and bridges on the state highway system”.
  • The DOT has to establish 10-year goals for maintenance of the conditions.
  • The DOT may use standards that meet the requirements set forth by the US DOT. I have a feeling that may will be interpreted by DOT as must.
  • The DOT will provide a report by the 4th Tuesday in Jan to the House and Senate committees on transportation relating to the current and projected status of the highways and bridges.
  • The report will also show the progress towards the 10-year goal.
  • Finally, if for some reason the projection shows the 10-year gold will not be met, the DOT has to provide how much more money they want to keep the 10-year goal on track.

Section 25 – This section increases the wheel tax (§ 32-5A-1). The wheel tax increases from $4 per wheel to $5 per wheel. It also changes the total amount from $16 (four wheels) to $60 (12 wheels). I believe the increase from 4 to 12 wheels is likely to cause some people to be unhappy for sure… But it will be a good way for counties to raise some extra revenue.

Section 26 – Section 26 revises the maximum speed limit on the Interstate (§ 32-25-4) from 75 mph to 80 mph. As someone who does a lot of long-distance travel I like this change.. But… I hate that this was added to SB 1. This section is NOT germane to the subject of the bill and should have been introduced as its own piece of legislation. Yes, the title of the bill was amended to make it germane. But that just created a different issue because bills are only supposed to have one subject matter.

Section 27 – This section repeals the inventory tax on fuel in storage (§ 10-47B-14). If I remember the testimony on this section correctly it sounds like most gas stations do not follow the provisions of this bit of code being repealed. Removing this provision prevents small business owners from being fined for not complying with a law too few people understood. I thought this was good, but also feel it maybe should have been done as a separate piece of legislation.

Section 28 – This section repeals the inventory tax on special fuel and jet fuel (§ 10-47B-15). Just like Section 27 I feel it is a good change, but it is questionable if it should have been included in SB 1.

Section 29 – This section repeals § 10-47B-16. It sets for the method to determine the amount of fuel to be taxed by inventory tax. The code being repealed in this section relate the code being repealed in Section 27 and 28 of this act. Just like Section 27 and 28, I feel this should not have been included in SB1. It simply isn’t germane to the purpose of this bill.

Section 30 – This section repeals § 10-47B-17. This bit of code being repeals also works in conjunction with the code being repealed in Sections 27 and 28 of this bill. Technically I think Sections 27, 28, 29, and 30 of this bill should have been introduced as its own piece of legislation. That would have been a single subject matter bill that followed the SD constitution.

Section 31 – This is the emergency clause portion of the bill. It makes the act take effect on April 1, 2015, instead of waiting for summer like most bills.

The SD Board of Elections should ask for SB 69 to be vetoed

March 17, 2015 15 comments
Rep Gosch working to pass SB 69. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

Rep Gosch working to pass SB 69. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

A bill that has gotten quite a bit of attention towards the end off session is the petition reform bill SB 69. Both Dakota Free Press and South Dakota War College have done posts on the bill. In this post I won’t try to cover every part of the bill, instead I will look at why the Board of Elections should ask the bill that bears their name to be vetoed.

SB 69SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain provisions regarding elections and election petitions.

This bill was one of three submitted by the Senate State Affairs committee on behalf of the SD Board of Elections. This bill in particular appeared to be aimed at streamlining the nominating petition process so some of the issues that happened during the 2014 election season could be avoided in the future and allow more time for the petition challenge process. I actually agreed with much of what SB 69 was trying to do. But even early on I believed it had provisions the had constitutional issues by being overly restrictive to newly formed political parties.

Plus this bill had the major change that would no longer allow candidates to send their petition registered mail by the deadline. Now petitions would be due in the SOS office on the deadline. That would be hard for certain remote districts, especially if they did not find a candidate until the end of the petition process.

I had hoped the committee process would fix the issues with SB 69. It didn’t. In fact the committee process made the bill worse. Senate State Affairs not only advanced the bill knowing it had potential constitutional issues, it amended new problems into the bill. Here are a couple of the new problems added by Senate State Affairs:

  • The committee amended the bill with a new section aimed at preventing placeholder candidates. This addition was obviously non-germane to the bill, but it was amended in anyhow. Personally I don’t like placeholder candidates either, but that doesn’t mean the situation should have been dealt with in a bill with the focus of reforming the petition reform process. It also seemed pretty petty for a Republican majority to make such changes which the opposing party often has to use.
  • One good addition was allowing an Independent candidate for lieutenant governor to be replaced on the ballot.

The addition of the placeholder candidate provision is enough for the Board of Elections to ask for the bill to be vetoed. It really has no place in the bill they requested. But there were more changes…

The Senate floor made the following changes to make the bill even worse:

  • One amendment was added to further specify the details needed for a doctor’s note in order for a candidate to withdraw. Yes, the Senate floor decided to continue down the path of amending the part of the bill which really wasn’t germane to the bill itself…
  • Another amendment on the Senate floor revises the signatures needed to gain ballot access from 1% of voters who voted for the party’s candidate, to 1% of the registered voters of that party (or non-party). This made the bill even worse. It will make it much harder for anyone, especially Independent candidates, to get on the ballot for certain offices. That was obviously aimed at keeping non-Republicans off the ballot.

The the bill was off to House State Affairs. Part of me hoped the House would take a serious look at the bill and get it back on track to what the Board of Elections had in mind. Here are some of the changes House State Affairs made:

  • House State Affairs also decided to continue amending the portion of the bill added to deal with placeholder candidates. It added a provision that a placeholder withdrawing for medical reasons must have been diagnosed after the petition filing. Really?
  • There was an amended added to further define “independent”, “no party affiliation” and “other”. This might have been OK, if it wasn’t being done to further restrict ballot access to these groups…
  • There was an amendment to change the nominating petition deadline to the first Tuesday in March. This was a change I really didn’t mind; except for the newly formed party. That was of course the original problem with this bill and still continues to be a problem with this change. The other problem is Independent candidates are also held to the standard, which is also probably unconstitutional since there is no actual primary election for Independents. An Independent candidate is not doing anything on behalf of a party, so holding them to party election laws makes no sense, and will likely be challenged in court next year.

Now it is time to look at some of the mess made of the bill on the House floor:

  • The nominating petition deadline was changed to the third Tuesday in March. Just like before I have no problem with this new date; except for including this provision for newly formed parties and Independent candidates.
  • There was also a lot of minor wording changes made. Honestly by this time I had lost all faith in the House that I really didn’t even research the little changes made. It didn’t matter at this point what had been done, the bill had been completely changed from its original intent of streamlining the nominating petition timeline.

At that point the bill failed to pass on the House floor by a vote of 34-34. It was then that Rep Gosch sent out his team to whip up votes. I still don’t understand why Gosch did that. By this point the executive branch didn’t seem to support the bill. There were known potential constitutional issues with the bill. It would have been best to let the bill die and come back next year with a better researched set of bills. Sadly upon reconsideration the bill passed the House floor 42-24.

The bill was then amended again by the Conference committee:

  • It was amended back to change the nominating petition deadline back to the first Tuesday in March. Again, still a potential constitutional issue for newly formed parties and Independent candidates.
  • Just like with the House amendments, I really didn’t research the rest of what was amended here. This bill was in such bad shape at this point it really didn’t matter.

That now leaves the bill having passed both chambers after the conference committee process. At this point the Governor has to decide whether to sign the bill, let it pass without his signature, or veto the bill. Personally I believe the SD Board of Elections should ask for the bill to be vetoed. Their name is on this bill. The bill was mutilated so badly during the legislative process that I cannot believe the board would still want to be associated with such a piece of legislation. It would be best at this time to ask for the Governor to veto the bill and come into the 2015 legislative session with a new set of bills ready to truly look at reforming the nominating petition process without inadvertently trying to restrict ballot access.

PS. I think I should end this post with a picture I feel summarizes the bill. Here is a picture of Rep Gosch after SB 69 had failed on the House floor. It is probably what I looked like after it was reconsidered and passed the House floor.

Rep Gosch on the SD House floor after SB 69 had been killed briefly. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

Rep Gosch on the SD House floor after SB 69 had been killed briefly. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

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