Legislative Report By Sen John Reedy Thursday was a very important day in the history of South Dakota. We became the first state in the nation to pass legislation that would require meatpackers to report the prices they pay for all their livestock purchases. The governor has publicly stated that he will sign the bill, SB 95, so we all expect him to do so. Livestock price reporting is essential if our independent farmers and ranchers are to have the information they need to negotiate contracts and market their cattle, sheep and hogs fairly and efficiently.
I worked very hard to see that this livestock price reporting bill passed the Senate in a strong form. I also worked closely with some of my colleagues in the House to ensure that the bill would also pass the chamber. Although the final votes were clearly in favor of the bill, there were numerous attempts to destroy the bill by requiring us to wait until numerous other states pass similar legislation first. We only narrowly defeated these attempts.
I strongly believe that the first duty of a legislator is to serve the interests of South Dakota. We cannot always wait for other states to do what is right. That's why I have always said that South Dakota needs to lead the nation on price reporting.
I was also deeply moved by the outpouring of public support for the price reporting legislation. Four hundred ranchers, feedlot operators and hog farmers packed the galleries on Thursday. I have never seen so many citizens come to the capitol on a single issue. These men and women were not only strong in the beliefs about the value of SB 95, but they were also very well informed about its details. Passage of SB 95 despite the intense lobbying efforts of the meatpacking industry shows that democracy can work when people are willing to make themselves heard.
Frankly, I believe that we need to do more for our public schools. If your children are grown, or if you send your children to a religious school, the fact remains that all of us benefit when our public school students receive a rigorous education. Unfortunately, too many people in Pierre seemed to be more concerned with sending our children to jail than teaching them to read and write well. The budget for the Department of Corrections has exploded during the last 20 years. Meanwhile, our school students attend classes in trailers, and our teachers are the lowest paid in the nation.
If you need more information or have any ideas on how we can work together to improve South Dakota, please contact me at (605) 624-2210.