The 94th Legislative session is officially over, with both chambers working through the night and adjourning at 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13th.
The session started with a survey of legislator’s priorities. Most everyone agreed that funding our nursing homes needed to be our highest priority. Then the governor came out in her initial budget address asking for a 5% increase in funding to nursing homes.
Of course, now that Session is over and the legislature agreed to a 10% increase to fund nursing homes, I think this will be the highlight I most remember from the year. The boost doesn’t close the Medicaid funding gap completely, but it’s a good start, and hopefully we will be able to do more next year.
Another success this year was passage of “Constitutional carry.” This was the first bill Governor Noem signed into law to allow people to carry concealed handguns without a permit.
Lots of people also want to talk about the industrial hemp bill. I initially supported it. But when it was amended in the Senate the bill changed. I didn’t support it once it was amended, and after the governor vetoed it I voted to uphold her veto.
I’m also grateful for the success passing the bills I introduced. None of them were earth-shattering type bills, but each were important to certain groups of people, and I worked hard to get them passed.
Two of the bills I sponsored helped active-duty military families and their children; another two bills solved problems for District 4 constituents: one by solving a family adoption problem, and the other by solving a government transparency problem. The last bill I passed requires doctors to notify a parent prior to placing a do-not-resuscitate order in a minor’s medical chart.
I also worked hard behind the scenes to pass five pro-life bills, including HB1177 to require an abortionist offer a pregnant mother the opportunity to hear the heartbeat of her baby before performing an abortion, and HB1193 to provide a criminal penalty for causing an abortion against a pregnant mother’s will.
As far as big picture, there were 463 bills introduced in the 2019 Session. About half passed.
In addition to regular bills, there were 12 joint resolutions introduced this year. According to legislative rules, a joint resolution may be used to refer a matter to the voters, to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, or to ratify proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Examples of two resolutions we debated included a provision to change the constitution to increase term limits of legislators, and a provision to legalize betting on sports events. None of the joint resolutions passed.
With Session over, we return to Pierre on March 29th to consider additional vetoes and discuss possible summer studies.
I will have additional meetings throughout the year, but until Session begins in January, 2020, for the most part I return to my regular life in rural Codington County, enjoying life with my wife on our small acreage, growing vegetables, being a chiropractor, and enjoying the great outdoors.
That’s it for now. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. Please feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org..
Life is good. Have a great week. – Fred