Two interim committee meetings on March 30

March 29, 2015 Leave a comment
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.

Monday, March 30, is the final day of the 2015 legislative session. After the House and Senate are done there are two interim committee meetings on the schedule. During session I tried to follow what was going on in each committee. I plan to continue this during the interim as much as possible.

It is also worth noting that the Rules Review committee had its first meeting on March 13th. The meeting was mostly organizational and the minutes can be read here.

Here are the two meetings being held on March 30:

Executive BoardAgenda – Beings 15 Mins after session ends.

This is mostly an organizational meeting. A lot happens with this committee during the interim so it is one I plan to watch all year long. § 2-9-4 sets for the powers and duties of the executive board:

             (1)      Instigate research and collect information concerning the government and general welfare of the state;
             (2)      Investigate and make recommendations concerning important issues of public policy and questions of statewide interest;
             (3)      Prepare a legislative program in the form of bills, or otherwise, as in its opinion the welfare of the state may require, to be presented to the Legislature;
             (4)      Cooperate with the administration in devising means of enforcing the law;
             (5)      Study, inquire, make recommendations and propose bills in any phase or branch of state government so deemed advisable and necessary;
             (6)      Appoint and name committees from the members of the State Legislative Research Council, and assign to such committee or committees appropriate subjects and projects of whatever character and nature the executive board deems advisable. Each member of the council is entitled to membership on one study committee of his choice insofar as practicable;
             (7)      Conduct legislative oversight and management analysis of the executive branch of government by means of a selective program of performance auditing and cooperate with the administration in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative methods; and
             (8)      Review and make recommendations for further legislative action regarding the opinions of state and federal courts which have sought to interpret the intent of South Dakota legislative acts.

As can be seen above the duties of the executive board are pretty critical. It is definitely a committee that is worth watching year-round.

Appropriations – Agenda – Beings 5 Mins after the Executive Board meeting.

Here is the agenda for this committee:

1. Call to Order
a. Determination of Quorum
b. Remarks from the Co-Chair(s)

2. 2015 Session Review

3. Letters of Intent

4. Summer Study Topics / Interim Work Plan

5. Other Business

6. Set Future Meeting Dates

7. Adjourn

I am particularly interested in the 2015 Session Review from an appropriations perspective.

SD Senate and House have three veto’s to consider on Mon March 30

March 29, 2015 1 comment
SD State capital. Photo by Ken Santema 02/11/15.

SD State capital. Photo by Ken Santema 02/11/15.

Monday, March 30, is the final legislative day in 2015. Both the House and Senate will convene at 10:00 AM to consider whether to override Governor Daugaard’s veto of three bills. I’ve blogged about the three vetoes before. Here is the cliff note version of each bill:

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 creates 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 would 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. In a state where there are few sources of revenue, this bill could open a Pandora’s box of new revenue enhancements.

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 would prevent a tax from being taxed. I really don’t understand the Governor’s veto of the bill. It just doesn’t align with how I am reading the bill. Perhaps I just haven’t studied this particular bill enough.

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 is actually pretty simple. It exempts amateur baseball coaches from Sales and Use Tax if the team is a 501(c)(19) non-profit. I believe it may have been harder for Daugaard to veto if it hadn’t been specific to one certain type of amateur coach.

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

March 27, 2015 1 comment

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).

Reps Kaiser and Deutsch have shown a commitment to constituent communication during the 2015 SD legislative session

March 25, 2015 2 comments
SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 01/21/15

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

Open government and transparency are huge issues for me. I would say anything that elected officials do to improve communication with constituents should be applauded for the commitment it shows towards the goal of open government and transparency. During the 2015 SD legislative session Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) showed their commitment by posting why they voted the way they did on every House floor vote. This is something I noted US Rep Justin Amash doing two years ago and hoped more would follow suit. Luckily SD had two Representatives willing to step up to this informative, yet potentially dangerous, thing for a politician to do.

Kaiser has actually done this both during the 2014 and the 2015 SD legislative sessions. After every vote he goes to his public Facebook page and posts a link to the bill that was just up for a vote. He also adds how he voted and why. Actually he did make one change from 2014 to 2015. In 2014 he waited until session was done each day to post his all of his votes. During the 2015 session he posted most of the directly after doing the vote.

Deutsch is a freshman legislator this year and has also posted each vote taken on the House floor. His public Facebook page can be browsed to find the links to each bill voted on. He also adds how he voted and why he voted a certain way for each vote.

Both legislators should be applauded for this commitment towards communicating with constituents. This communication shows a commitment to legislative transparency. It is rare to find politicians willing to openly communicate so often. Actually such communication also makes my job as a blogger much easier. This constant communication from these legislators lets me understand why they vote yes or no when I feel they should have voted the other way. Sometimes I will find there is a point of view I didn’t take into account when originally reading the bill. And often that point of view was not mentioned on the House floor (that is an issue for another blog post).

On bill I followed with interest this year was HJR 1001 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which called for an Article V convention. Below are the posts from each of these two legislators about their vote. I am using this vote as an example of what can be learned because this happened to be a close vote (39-30) and these two legislators voted differently.

Here is Rep Kaiser’s post about HRJ 1001:

Here is Rep Deutsch’s post about HJR 1001:

For a constituent that is looking to find out the why of certain votes in Pierre these posts are invaluable. In just a couple of sentences each legislator was able to summarize the why of their vote. Additionally these posts can be commented on. If anyone wishes they could ask the legislator to expand upon their reasoning.

Beyond these two I have seen an increase in Facebook usage from other legislators as well. Not every legislator is going to post on Facebook about each of their vote (although I wish they would). But many have stepped up and done more frequent posts than was seen in past years. Typically these are posts about bills a particular legislator is the prime sponsor of. I applaud the legislators that have been doing this as well.

Hopefully in the 2016 session there be even more legislators willing to communicate more often with constituents through Facebook. Even if they don’t post every vote, any increased amount of communication works towards transparency in Pierre. That is a winning scenario for constituents!

PS. If you do try looking through old Facebook posts on pages such as these you have to deal with the silly highlights feature that annoys the heck out of people. Here are the steps you will have to take in order to deal with this problem when on a Facebook page:

  • Scroll down the page until you see the word “highlights” as pictured below:
    fbhighlights
  • Click on “highlights”
  • Click on “all stories”
  • You will now see all posts on that page as you scroll down. Without choosing “all stories” it will omit many posts and cause a lot of frustration.

PPS. I know this is a post about SD legislators. But I should notice I’ve seen this done at the City Council level as well. Recently Aberdeen City Councilwoman Jennifer Slaight-Hansen posting during city council meetings. I applaud her for doing so and I hope she will keep it up.

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

March 20, 2015 Leave a comment
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 3 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.

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