Pierre Direct Line

Pierre Direct Line By Rep. Judy Clark Rather than discuss a particular bill, I'd like to talk a little about the process of law making.

Of the 400 or 500 bills presented every session, the history of only a few of them are known to each legislator and those bills are usually the ones they have personally sponsored.

We legislators depend on the committee system for information on the others. There are 13 standing committees in the House and each committee covers a category of interest. The House committees are: Agriculture & Natural Resources, Appropriations, Commerce, Education, Government Operations, Health & Human Services, Judiciary, Legislative Procedure, Local Government, Retirement Laws, State Affairs, Taxation and Transportation.

When a bill comes up it is assigned to the appropriate committee for a hearing. It is at these hearings that interested people can testify, either for or against the bill. If the bill may affect an industry, that industry usually has a lobbyist there to testify. And contrary to the public perception, lobbyists are not evil creatures. You may be familiar with some of the organizations lobbying. The AARP, Municipal League, PTA, Association of School Boards, SD Association of Retailers and many, many others.

But the most important lobbyist is the every day citizen who knows something about the subject of the bill. When a citizen takes the time to come to Pierre and talk about a bill, they are listened to with respect.

But even if you can't take time off from work and come to Pierre, a letter or telephone call is helpful to legislators. There is no way we can possibly know everything about everything. We need your input.

If only one side shows up to testify, the committee is more likely to pass the bill out favorable to that side. And we depend, and often vote, on that committee recommendation. So you see how important your voice can be.

Having said that, I have to add that we may still not vote the way you want � for what I hope are good reasons we can explain. But there is only one legislator you will always agree with, and that is you if you decide to serve.

What you think is important. Legislators need to hear from you.

I'm sorry I missed those of you who were at the cracker barrel at the Vermillion Library on Saturday. To avoid driving through the storm Friday night, I stayed over in Pierre and started back early Saturday. West of Mitchell I hit a large icy patch at 70 mph � on cruise control. Believe me I'm old enough to know better! By the time I got myself together and the car out of the ditch, it was too late to get there.

If you had questions or comments you wanted to discuss, please call me at home 605-624-9795 or at Pierre 605-773-3851.

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