Session 2 Week 7

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It was an eventful week in the legislature, we reached crossover day which is the day all the bills have to be out of their Chamber of origin so the House bills have to move to the Senate and vice-versa. We had the second vote on the sales tax increase and it passed by one vote. It was not a decision I made lightly, or I guess I can’t even say with a whole lot of pleasure, because increasing taxes should always be the most difficult legislative decision you ever make. I was elected to make hard decisions and that is what I did. After listening to the debates and seeking wise counsel from trusted advisors in the district I realized we had to move a plan forward, and if alternative funds are clearly identified and agreed to by a majority of appropriation legislators and the full chamber they can easily be applied to this plan.

The Ag Committee heard their remaining House bills and moved on to the Senate bills. One of the more interesting ones was HB 1228 which would have required country of origin labeling of any meat sold in South Dakota. It would have made South Dakota an island in the nation now that COOL has been repealed nationwide and the bill died a narrow death in committee on a 7-6 vote.

SB 3 come from the Ag land assessment taskforce and it would make any 30 acre parcel of land that is strictly farm ground classified as Agricultural land for taxation purposes if the owner falls under the $2,500 Ag income threshold. The point that needs to be made is that for the land to be classified as Ag Land under this proposed change it needs to be crop ground with no structures on it. It came out of committee on an 11-1 vote.

The floor debate went from 2:00 – 7:30 pm on Wednesday as we had no more days to get the House bills delivered to the Senate. Debates times on bills varied from a few minutes to 30 or more. We heard bills dealing with topics such as prohibiting the use of tanning beds by minors, HB 1124. My thoughts on that bill were that we as a state try to protect people from themselves more than government should. Is over-tanning bad for you? Yes, but when does personal freedom to make bad decisions come into play?

HB 1242 would allow parents to put a security freeze on their child’s credit report. There has been an increase in identity theft cases involving minor children and most of the time the theft isn’t even realized until the child starts applying for college loans or any other major finance related change in a child’s life. This law change would help prevent this from occurring.

And finally HB 1234 provides statutory language that if the Governor wishes to make any major changes to the state Medicaid program that there must be legislative approval to do so. This bill of course would seem to be related to this year’s Medicaid expansion proposal brought forth by the Governor; however this law won’t go into effect until this summer and will only apply to future events involving Medicaid, not the proposed change this year.

I’ve learned a lot this past couple of weeks both about myself, and the legislative process. Our experiences in life shape and mold us every step of the way. I know better now how to handle myself in situations of extreme pressure. I’ve also learned that you will never please all your constituents when you make a vote. I can’t control what constituents say or think about me, that’s just part of this job and I take this position very seriously and I will always do my best to represent the people of District 20.

It is an honor to represent you.