After two weeks the legislature is heating up.
Two national resolutions were introduced this week. The first expressed support to build a wall along the southern border of the US. The second thanked Senators. John Thune and Mike Rounds for supporting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the confirmation hearings. Both resulted in vigorous political debates. The unfortunate reality of resolutions is that they are meaningless since they do not carry the power of law.
The other emerging hot-topic that just came to light is the Speaker of the House banned the Municipal League’s lobbyist from being on the floor of the House because she wrote a column saying that there were to many “wackies” in the House of Representatives. Seems to me there may be a First Amendment Free Speech violation here. This is just developing. Stay tuned for more information.
Bills this week included:
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 47 in a 4-3 vote to allow South Dakotans to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. The bill now goes to the full Senate.
Transgender Sports Policy Bill
Senate Bill 49 would void the South Dakota High Schools Activities Association’s policy that allows transgender students to participate on sports teams that reflect their subjective gender identities rather than the objective biological sex listed on their birth certificate.
Instead of the current policy, the student’s biologic sex noted on their birth certificate would be the sole determinant of which sports teams the student may participate. The bill is scheduled for hearing this week.
Sales Tax Increase
The County Commissioners are requesting authority to ask voters for a one-half cent sales tax increase for specified projects such as building a jail. If approved by the legislature, the issue would go to the voters to decide.
Term Limit Changes
Senate Joint Resolution 1 asks voters in November to amend the South Dakota Constitution to limit legislators to two four-year terms instead of the current limit of four two-year terms.
Once legislators reach their term limit, they’ll still be eligible to serve in the other legislative chamber or sit out an election before running again for the same chamber. If the Resolution passes, the issue would go to the voters to decide.
Civics Education Bills
Two bills were introduced this week to bolster civics education in South Dakota. Either, both or neither could pass.
Senator Jim Bolin introduced Senate Bill 52 that would add a half unit of civics education to high school graduation requirements.
I introduced a separate bill, HB 1051, that would create a voluntary civics literacy program. Public schools, private schools, and home school parents could all choose to opt into the program. The purpose of the program is to recognize high school students who have attained a high level of proficiency in civics that exceed current graduation requirements.
This week the House voted to establish a new committee on Veterans and Military Affairs. I’m grateful to be appointed to serve on the committee. Wednesday will be the first day the committee meets. It will hear two of my bills, HB 1043 and 1044. The first bill requires the Department of Social Services to collaborate with its military counterpart when investigating a claim of child abuse or neglect when the child’s parent or legal guardian has a military affiliation. The second allows active-duty military families transferring to South Dakota to register their child for school prior to arriving in the state.
The Week Ahead
I anticipate an influx of bills this week. Governor Noem is also expected to provide her budget recommendation on Wednesday. One area I’ll be watching is the amount of revenue from online sales tax. Under current law, when the state has collected $20 million from online merchants, the 4.5% sales tax rate needs to be lowered.
You can find comprehensive legislative information online at: sdlegislature.gov.
Please feel free to contact me at any time via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you make it to the Capitol, please look me up.
Life is good. Have a great week. – Fred