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River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force on Tues Sept 20

September 19, 2016 1 comment

On Tuesday, September 20, the River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force will meet for the second time in 2016. The River Basin Task Force was created in 2015 via SB 2 (SoDakLiberty Posts). The river basin natural resource districts that are formed by this bill will create water management plans and add a new level of elected positions and non-elected bureaucrats around the state. This meeting will begin at 10:00 in Pierre.  SDPB will also provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting, an archive of the audio will also be available there after the meeting.

The previous meeting was held on August 16. My post prior to that meeting can be read here and the minutes can be viewed here.

The agenda for the September 20 meeting is posted here. One of the agenda items is a review of the districts and sub-district boundaries. A document has been posted for this meeting showing the latest version of the Natural Resource District maps.  Here is the latest version of the statewide map showing the proposed districts:

SD Natural Resource District Map Aug 2016

SD Natural Resource District Map Aug 2016

The biggest part of the meeting is likely to revolve around four proposed pieces of legislation. Here is a very brief overview of the four pieces of draft legislation. I will wait until the final draft is completed before I look too deep at these proposed bills.

Draft Legislation – Boundaries

The actual draft legislation relating to boundaries can be viewed here. Basically this would update the various River District boundaries already set in Chapter 46A-19 of South Dakota codified law.

Draft Legislation – Election

The draft legislation for conducting elections for the river basic district councils can be read here.  The first election would occur in 2018. Each district would have six council members, with 2 each coming from each sub-district. The legislation also says each council member should be a registered voter in the subdistrict they are seeking to be elected into. Registered voters of the subdistrict are also allowed to vote in the election. This is a sticky point of the proposed legislation. Some want only people living within the district to have voting rights, but that would leave some farmers unable to vote for a council member who may dramatically impact their operations in the future. The residency of council members and voters will likely be a sticky point in committee during the legislative session.

Draft Legislation – Procedure to Change Boundaries

The draft legislation to change boundaries can be viewed here. The biggest part of any change is to ensure current boundaries, such as township boundaries, are maintained within the same district.

Draft Legislation – Vacancies

Vacancies have come up as an issue at a couple of committee meetings. The draft legislation to provide for replacing vacancies can be viewed here.

River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force meeting on Tues, Aug 16

August 15, 2016 Comments off

On Tuesday, August 16, the River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force will meet for the second time in 2016. The River Basin Task Force was created in 2015 via SB 2 (SoDakLiberty Posts). The river basin natural resource districts that are formed by this bill will create water management plans and add a new level of elected positions and non-elected bureaucrats around the state. This meeting will begin at 10:00 in Pierre.  SDPB will also provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting.

The previous meeting was held on June 20. My post prior to that meeting can be read here and the minutes can be viewed here.

The agenda for the August 16 meeting is posted here. Basically there are only three agenda items (with sub-items not listed here):

  • Review of District and Subdistrict Boundaries
  • Election of Council Members
  • Pilot Water Management Plan

The current proposed map of the districts, as of July 2016, can be viewed below (click to make bigger):

July 2016 proposed River Basin Natural Resource Districts statewide map. Downloaded from LRC website 8/15/16.

July 2016 proposed River Basin Natural Resource Districts statewide map. Downloaded from LRC website 8/15/16.

The election of Council Members is the area I will pay the greatest amount of attention to. It is this agenda item which will bring forth possible legislation for the 2017 legislative session. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs provided a list of questions and information about the election of council members during the June 20 meeting. I would imagine LRC has been working on draft legislation based upon recommendations from Krebs. It will also be interesting to see if draft legislation will include large municipalities in the river basin districts; this has been a point of controversy.

River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force meeting on Mon June 20

June 18, 2016 Comments off

On Monday, June 20, the River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force will hold its first meeting of the 2016 interim session. The River Basin Task Force was created in 2015 via SB 2 (SoDakLiberty Posts). The river basin natural resource districts that are formed by this bill will create water management plans and add a new level of elected positions and non-elected bureaucrats around the state. This meeting will begin at 10:00 in Pierre.  SDPB will also provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting.

The task force held three meetings last year. Prior to the December meeting I did a post looking at the proposed maps of the nine districts. The minutes from that meeting show some minor changes to the boundaries, but no updated map has been published yet.

Looking at the agenda for the June 20 meeting there are three main items of focus:

Nebraska’s Experience with Natural Resource Districts

Nebraska has natural resource districts similar to what is being planned in South Dakota. Dean Edson, Executive  Director of Nebraska Association of Resource Districts, will be on hand to share the experience Nebraska has had with natural resource districts and to answer any questions the committee may have. Below is a map of the Natural Resource Districts (NRD) that exist within Nebraska currently:

Nebraska NRDs. Screenshot from www.nrdnet.org on 6/18/16.

Nebraska NRDs. Screenshot from http://www.nrdnet.org on 6/18/16.

This might be worth paying attention to for anyone worried about how such districts would function.

Election of Council Members – Legislation Needed

The final meeting of the River Basin Task Force in 2015 included draft legislation to allow for the election of natural resource district council members. The draft can be viewed here. This legislation never did get submitted, and thus did not pass. Part of this meeting appears to be a meeting with Secretary of State Shantel Krebs to look at how to proceed with such legislation.

Review of District and Subdistrict Boundaries

Here is the draft map of South Dakota’s proposed districts (minus the changes agreed to at the last task force meeting) posted on the LRC website last December:

Draft of the SD River Basin Natural Resource Districts. Image from LRC website.

Draft of the SD River Basin Natural Resource Districts. Image from LRC website.

Hopefully there will be an updated map to show the proposed boundaries after the changes from the last meeting. These boundaries will be very important for the landowners contained within the districts.

This is a meeting landowners may want to pay particular attention to!

No general election for SD Legislative District 1; a look at Frerichs, McCleerey and Wismer

June 18, 2016 Comments off
SD Legislative District 1.

SD Legislative District 1.

Before I begin looking at the legislative races for the general election this fall in South Dakota I thought it would be worthwhile focusing on the districts which have no challengers. These races are technically already “won”. Even though there technically isn’t a race I still feel it is worthy doing a post about each of these non-contested legislative spots so constituents can learn a thing or two about who is representing them. First up with will be District 1.

South Dakota legislative District 1 does not have a general election race on either the Senate or House side. District 1 is the northeast corner of South Dakota (with a bit of creative legislative districting  in Brown County). Towns in District 1 include Andover, Bristol, Britton, Butler, Claire City, Corona, Eden, Frederick, Grenville, Hecla, Lake City, Langford, Lily, New Effington, Ortley, Peever, Pierpont, Rosholt, Roslyn, Sisseton, Summit, Veblen, Waubay, Webster, Westport, White Rock, and Wilmot.

District 1 has been a Democrat stronghold for a long time. With no general election that will be true for at least two more years. There was not even a primary election this time. In this post I will look at a few pieces of prior legislation from all three individuals so constituents can get an idea of their legislative priorities.

State Senate

Sen Jason Frerichs (D, Dist 1) – Incumbent
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Sen Frerichs will be entering his fourth term as State Senator for District 1. An interesting bill from Frerichs in 2016 was SB 145 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 145 was an Act to “require certain provisions to be met before allowing public utilities or carriers to exercise eminent domain procedures.” This was an interesting bill because it would have required a utility or carrier to wait until a projects permits are approved before allowing that entity to go forth with eminent domain. The bill also would have ensured no utility or carrier could use eminent domain until at least eighty percent of the landowners voluntarily allow an easement for the project. It seemed odd to me the Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary committee voted to kill this extra layer of protection against eminent domain abuse. This seems to me the type of bill legislators would want to back in order to protect property rights.

A bill worth looking at from 2015 is SB 2 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 2 was passed into law and creates river basin natural resource districts. This is a bill I thought would not pass. The river basin natural resource districts that are formed by this bill will create water management plan and add a new level of elected positions and non-elected bureaucrats around the state. It is commendable what the new districts are being created for, to manage and protect the natural water resources within the state. But there are many, including myself, who feel this new layer of government will be used against landowners. Frerichs himself has said this is not the case and has been a large advocate of these new districts; hopefully he is correct. There is a meeting of the River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force on June 20. That might be worth listening in on and learning more about the implementation of SB 2.

Jason Frerichs attempting to introduce new legislation on Veto Day. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

Jason Frerichs attempting to introduce new legislation on Veto Day. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

Normally in these posts I look at legislation prime sponsored by the elected official in question. But in Frerichs case I thought it might be worth looking at a something he did at the end of the 2016 legislative session. Pay raises for teachers was the big issue for the 2016 legislative session. The policy side of the teacher pay raise,  SB 131 (SoDakLiberty Posts), was amended in the House by Rep Jacqueline Sly (R, Dist 33) to remove two-year averaging from the definition of fall enrollment. That change basically removed the safety-net for schools with falling enrollment and would hurt small school districts with declining enrollment. On veto day Frerichs tried to suspend the rules and introduce a new bill to undo the Sly amendment. Frerichs attempt failed. But this does appear to be a good example of Frerichs actually trying to do something to fix problems in legislation. It was also interesting from a political geek perspective as it was a procedural move that is not often tried.

State Representative

Steven McCleerey

Rep Steven McCleerey (D, Dist 1) – Incumbent
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Rep Steven McCleerey speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

Rep Steven McCleerey speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

Rep McCleerey has served one term in the House. For the last two years McCleerey has prime sponsored legislation to try limiting perpetual conservation easements to 100 years. In 2015 he tried it through HB 1152 (SoDakLiberty Posts) and in 2016 through HB 1180 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Both of these attempts failed to make it through the House. These perpetual conservation easements often don’t work how the landowners think they will, and the federal government often changes the terms of these easements. Many find it unwise to allow the federal government to have such long easements within the state of SD, where future landowners will be locked into an agreement that may not be in the best interest of their land at that time. Perhaps McCleerey will try this again in 2017.

Another pair of bills to look at from McCleerey both come from 2016: HB 1192 (SoDakLiberty Posts) and HB 1193 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Both of these are “ban the box” bills aimed at preventing employers from asking job applicants about criminal convictions during the initial phases of screening. HB 1192 would have prevented government agencies from asking about convictions. HB 1193 would have prevented private companies from asking about convictions. Personally I think  HB 1192 was a good idea and would have been a good change for a state that loves to make money off criminal convictions. HB 1193 however would have been yet another mandate on private businesses. Personally I think businesses should refrain from worrying about convictions during the initial employment screening anyhow. But that is their choice, and it shouldn’t need a government mandate. Both of McCleerey’s bills were killed by House Judiciary.

Finally it is worth looking at a couple more bills from 2015 and 2016, yet they were not prime sponsored by McCleerey. 2016’s HB 1124 (SoDakLiberty Posts) and 2015’s HB 1166 (SoDakLiberty Posts) were both bills aimed at tanning beds. 2015’s bill originally would have prevented all minors from using tanning beds. It was amended to allow minors to use tanning devices with parental permission, and was then defeated on the House floor. 2016’s version was once again a ban on minors being allowed to use tanning devices. Both bill were seen as an unwarranted intrusion on the private sector and I’ve even heard them referred to as nanny state bills. These bills are mentioned in the section about McCleerey because he has been a very vocal supporter of both bills. Almost every time I’ve seen him speak at public events in the Aberdeen area he mentions the importance of tanning bed legislation.

Susan Wismer

Susan Wismer (D, Dist 1) –  Wismer looks to regain her House seat. In 2014 she was the Democrat candidate for Governor.
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Susan Wismer speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 11/05/16.

Susan Wismer speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 11/05/16.

Wismer formerly served three terms as State Representative for District 1. In 2014 she did not seek reelection for State House, and instead ran for Governor. In that race she beat fellow Democrat Joe Lowe in the party’s primary. Wismer was then soundly defeated by incumbent Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard. A main theme of her campaign was to prove a different voice in Pierre. Personally I think Wismer should be tapped for State Treasurer or State Auditor in 2018 when there won’t be an incumbent to run against. Her experience running a statewide race in 2014 could be translated into a possible win in 2018 if the party is willing to back her with some money and there is a strong gubernatorial candidate for her travel the state with.

In her return to the legislature Wismer will be taking the spot currently filled by Rep Dennis Feickert (D, Dist 1). Feickert is term-limited, making Wismer’s return to District 1 politics as easy as submitting her nominating petition.

Looking at legislation to look at from Wismer is 2014’s HB 1173 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1173 was to allow counties to create a special purpose districts for county roads. This came about because of opt-outs continuously failing in Brown County, where rural residents need to fix their roads but Aberdeen residents don’t want to pay for it. This bill would have allowed the county create a county road improvement special purpose tax district. The bill did not pass the House, which is not surprising considering in 2014 there would be a summer study looking at infrastructure revenues. Additionally the counties were backing other solutions. The bill does show that Wismer was trying to do something before the legislature acted with the massive infrastructure tax and fee hike in 2015.

Another bill to look at Wismer comes from 2013: HB 1193 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1193 would have raised the state sales and use tax from 4% to 5%. Wismer presented this bill by saying the State of South Dakota simply does not bring in enough revenue. Her testimony on the bill said there are many areas of state government that need a greater amount of funding. That makes it hard on Appropriations (of which she was a member) to try funding state government properly. It is almost surprising Wismer would propose such a large tax increase just a year before running for Governor. The bill unsurprisingly did not make it out of committee. Wismer did admit during the committee meeting that she would prefer instituting an income tax.

River Basin Task Force to meet on Fri, Oct 16

October 15, 2015 Comments off
"Rapid Creek" art from SD State Capital. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

“Rapid Creek” art from SD State Capitol. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

On Friday, Oct 16, the River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force will hold a second meeting in Pierre. The first meeting was held on August 13, just a day after I spoke with task force member Sen Jason Frerichs.

A look at the Aug 13 meeting:

I’m looking at the minutes from the Aug 13 meeting and see the tasks assigned to the task force to be completed in 2015 include:

  • Recommend specific boundaries of the districts;
  • Recommend how to divide each district into three subdistricts of nearly equal size of population;
  • Recommend a procedure by which initial terms of a district council shall be staggered;
  • Help establish a pilot water management plan for the Red River and Minnesota River Natural Resource District.

After 2015 the task force will have the following tasks:

  • Establish guidelines to be used by districts for developing a water management plan;
  • Review Chapter 46-10A and determine what provisions need to be included in the future law governing river basin districts.

It will be the review of Chapter 46-10A that will be important to watch. Any legislation giving power to the river basin districts will come from that review. It was noted in the meeting that the districts will eventually need regulatory and taxing authority. That makes some of us weary this may be a huge increase in state power to be used against land owners.

A look at the Oct 16 agenda:

The meeting will begin at 10:00 am in the Capitol building and is open to the public. A copy of the agenda can be read here. Here is what the press release says about the meeting:

Senate Bill 2, as enacted by the 2015 Legislature, provided for the creation of River Basin Natural Resource Districts. This task force has been tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of these districts. At this meeting the task force will be discussing the establishment of district boundaries and subdistrict boundaries and the process to elect council members from each subdistrict. The task force will also be discussing the process to develop a pilot water management plan for a district.

Presumably there will be proposed district boundaries ready for this meeting. If I am able to get out of the office tomorrow I might make the trip to Pierre and attend the meeting. This task force is probably a lot more important than many realize.

A conversation with Dist 1 State Senator Jason Frerichs

October 2, 2015 1 comment
SD SOS Shantel Krebs and District 1 SD State Senator Jason Frerichs at the Brown County Fair.

SD SOS Shantel Krebs and District 1 SD State Senator Jason Frerichs at the Brown County Fair.

This year during the Brown County Fair I took some time to speak with a number of legislators. Today’s post will focus on the conversation I had with Democrat District 1 State Senator Jason Frerichs. Yes, I am way behind on these posts, this conversation took place on August 12, 2015. Like most of these posts from the Brown County Fair this is just a brief chat I had with Frerichs. It was not meant to be a true interview or in-depth report. Most of the conversation revolved around water management and this post will reflect that. Also, since this is a post to pass information on to voters I will keep editorializing to a minimum.

To begin with I asked how Frerichs thought the 2015 legislative session went. He called this session non-typical because so much of the session was focused around the transportation bill (SB 1 – SoDakLiberty Posts). The rest of the summer studies from 2014 he felt was pushed off until the end of session; instead of at the beginning of session as is with most studies.

In particular Frerichs felt the work done by the 2014 Watershed Task Force flew under the radar until the end of the 2015 session. Frerichs was a member of that task force. One of the bills they passed was SB 2 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which established the framework for river basin natural resource districts. SB2 became law on July 1. So at this point Frerichs said the River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force (which he is a member of) is focused on how to create sub-districts for some of the very large water districts. Over in Frerichs area there will be a pilot program setup in the Red and Minnesota River Districts. Frerichs said the short-term goal is to get the districts setup and the framework laid out so local government entities can see how the districts will operate and look like. Going forward Frerichs noted that watershed districts are how things will look and will have continuous legislative oversight.

I asked Frerichs what his actual goal is with the water resource districts. At its core, Frerichs says he hopes the districts can accomplish coordinating efforts between various stakeholders. He noted the districts are not setup in accordance with any political boundaries. Instead they are being setup in a way that local governments, communities, and neighbors can come together and mange water resources. At the same time the districts will allow resource management to be looked at from a statewide aspect. Frerichs also wanted to convey  that he doesn’t see this as a growth in government, which many people such as myself have called it. Instead he sees this as an opportunity to trim back and remove “excess layers that already exist.” Frerichs believes the new districts will allow better coordination between the various stakeholders directly.

Additionally he noted that within a district there are ways that will allow districts to manage water to better utilize the water resources available. While water quality is an issue, he doesn’t think it is comparable to what the EPA does. Instead he gave an example of the Big Sioux District. Perhaps if there is too much water being held at the north end of the river it can be utilized for irrigation further down the river. The districts would allow for such coordination. Frerichs sees the district as a way for landowners and other stakeholders to come together and find better ways to utilize the water resources, and also make sure quality is upheld to allow for recreational use.

I did ask Frerichs about the whole series of issues that have come up with meandered and non-meandered waters; and if these districts would somehow tie into that (after all the court cases are  done I expect that to be a huge issue in the legislature.) Frerichs doesn’t think the fights about the meandered and non-meandered will be directly impacted by the water districts. He noted that these fights have garnered heightened emotions between those fighting for properties rights and those fighting for water access rights. Frerichs does think the water districts could help alleviate some of the issues with non-meandered waters because some of the excess water can be managed. There are some of the solutions he says are obvious such as drainage and irrigation. But he also noted there may be some recreational opportunities that could be managed such as creating new reservoirs or fishing areas.

Since speaking with Frerichs the River Basin Natural Resource District Oversight Advisory Task Force has had a meeting (and likely sub-committee meetings). The documents from that first meeting can be viewed here. I expect water management issues will continue to be a focus for Senator Jason Frerichs and I plan to follow the progress of the water districts on this blog.

Frerichs, McCleerey and Feickert at the Brown County Democrat March meeting

March 27, 2015 3 comments

On March 26, 2015, the Brown County Democrats held their monthly meeting at the Eagles club in Aberdeen. Sen Jason Frerichs (D, Dist 1), Rep Steven McCleerey (D, Dist 1), and Rep Dennis Feickert (D, Dist 1) were all guest speakers to give their perspective about how the SD 2015 legislative session went. In this post I’ll pull out some of the highlights of what they each had to say (and keep my editorial comments to a minimum)

Sen Frerichs speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 03/26/15.

Sen Frerichs speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 03/26/15.

Frerichs was the first legislator to speak. He opened up by noting that the Senate Democrat caucus actually gained one member in 2015. Along those lines he noted it would have been nice to keep Chuck Welke in the Senate, but he was defeated last fall by Sen Brock Greenfield  (R, Dist 2). He noted that each additional person in the Senate gives the Democrat caucus a little more power, but they need to work on getting at least a third of the Senate to make any real headway. I would agree, in 2016 the Democrats should work hard on getting twelve seats in the Senate if they truly want to have any impact in Pierre.

When talking about this session, Frerichs noted a big theme of this session was that big issues were being avoided. The issues he brought up that were ignored this year include Medicaid Expansion, teacher pay, and teacher recruitment. He believes those issues were “brought up, and placed on top, and placed to the side. And that is unfortunate.”

When talking about the roads bill SB 1 Frerichs noted that the Governor wanted the roads bill and “wants it bad”. He noted the first time going through the Senate he voted no to SB1 quite easily because it really didn’t do much for local governments. Frerichs noted that the conference committee for the bill was one of the worst he has ever seen in Pierre (and I would agree). He noted the bill kept getting delayed during the conference committee process and that the House was holding it up. From his perspective it wasn’t even a Republican vs Democrat issue. It was purely the House trying to control the bill. On the Senate side he noted the Democrats were being lobbied hard to vote for SB1, because they were a couple of votes short in the Republican caucus. Frerichs said that was a good opportunity for the Democrats to push for more local money. The final bill he felt was more “leveled out” so he voted for it the second time. (My summary of what is in SB 1 can be read here).

Frerichs then went on to talk about the water management bills SB 2 and SB 3. Both of these are bills he worked hard on to get passed and will continue to work with going forward. SB 2 creates nine river basin natural resource districts. He also mentioned it creates a pilot project in his area of the state and has a legislative oversight taskforce. He believes there will be a lot of work implementing SB2. He noted that the districts will be a work in progress. When talking about the districts he doesn’t think they will solve all of the water problems; but he does think the program will get the state down the right path of managing the water in the river basins. He said “we shouldn’t just sit back and let mother nature rule us.” That was an interesting segway into his next point. He noted the legislature also passed legislation providing funding for the pine beetle situation west river (SB 152). He noted that west river is fighting to save their property and their economy from a mother nature problem. Further, he finished that thought by saying “This is our pine beetle problem of the east”.

Rep McCleerey speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 03/26/15.

Rep McCleerey speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 03/26/15.

McCleerey said if he had to sum up the session in one word it would be “frustrating”. He believes there is a lack of leadership “coming from the other side” and coming from the Governor’s office. He believes that is an unfortunate situation for the people of South Dakota. When talking about the youth minimum wage bill (SB 177) he felt the Governor should have used a veto. That seemed to tie into the lack of leadership points he made.

Briefly McCleerey mentioned something I have noted and plan to a post about in the future. He felt the time being put in while at Pierre is not sufficient. It was frustrating for him that session ended so early every day, and then on Friday they would be out of there at 1:30 pm.

McCleerey also took a few minutes to talk about the highway bill. He noted that when campaigning transportation funding was one of his top issues. But he was hesitant to vote for the bill because it was a such a “poor bill from the start”. The addition of the interstate top speed of 80 mph made the bill even worse for him. He did vote yes to the bill in the end.

Looking to the future McCleerey stated he believes the 2016 legislative session will be about Medicaid expansion and education funding. After that he believes the next two session will be about the Governors race. He doesn’t believe anything substantial will be done in 2017 and 2018 from his perspective. (I agree with him on these points, I would say the run for Governor in 2018 has already started, but that is a topic for a different post).

Talking about bills before the Health & Human Service’s committee, McCleerey mentioned HB 1080. HB 1080 allows investigational treatments to be used by patients under certain conditions. He was happy to the bill passed so it could help people out.

McCleerey was disappointed to see the tanning bed prohibition for minors (HB 1166) was not passed. He says cancer is increasing at an extreme rate. He says the bill was stopped by “small business libertarian types”. He felt it was almost embarrassing that the bill could not be passed, even though it had been amended many times to work out the differences. He felt it was wrong to choose between cancer and small businesses. Going further, he noted that a bill was passed to allow the use of a chemo therapy pill to treat cancer (SB 101) but the legislature couldn’t pass a bill to prevent cancer.

At the end of his time McCleerey noted the Republicans “are a split party”. He hopes the Democrats can capitalize on the split that is evident in the SD Republican party.

Rep Feickert speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 03/26/15.

Rep Feickert speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 03/26/15.

Feickert began by saying it was a disappointing how few bills the transportation committee actually took up this year. He noted that many of the bills that went before Transportation dealt more with updating the dates referenced in law. He was truly disappointed in SB 1 because there was discussion about where the road funding bill should go. Due to politics, he said that there was a push to get the transportation funding bill taken out of Transportation and put into State Affairs. The committee actually voted to keep the bill in Transportation. Then the next day it voted on the House floor to force the bill out of Transportation and into State Affairs. He said from that point on the massive transportation bill really didn’t have any involvement from the Transportation committee. (This is another issue that deserves a separate post, Feickert has a good point about the politics of this bill).

When going into specifics about SB 1, Feickert noted he was not happy with the tiered property tax portion of the bill. He said this new method of funding roads is “worse than an opt-out”. He believes the tiers are going to hurt big population counties. When it comes to property tax funding he felt the Governor’s original proposal was much better, but that was changed on the Senate floor.

Feickert also felt it was bad that the bill asking for a study on taxing agricultural land by its actual use was not passed (SB 4). He felt the study would have been able to show what the impact would be if a production-based property tax was implemented. Many opponents of the bill said it would negatively impact school funding. Feickert said the study should have been approved so it could be determined if that was true. Along the same lines he mention the bill that would have created a new leased residential property classification (SB 100). SB 100 was vetoed by the Governor. He feels the same arguments for SB 100 should have been used for SB 4. But at the same time he questioned whether landords would actually have passed savings on to renters if SB 100 had been implemented and a new lower tax levy was created for it.

Overall I would say all three legislators tried to make the case that it is hard to serve in a party that is in a super-minority. But all three noted that division within the Republican party does allow for them to have power at certain times. If they can get more numbers in the 2016 election it might open a new door for Democrats. (That is a BIG IF at this point).

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