Legislative View

Legislative View
The 81st legislative session started off rather slow, but it has picked up speed quickly. We've had two short weeks to get all of our legislation sponsored and turned in. I'm sponsoring an unusually high number of bills this year. Most are ideas that were brought to me by constituents, some are my own bills that I have strong feelings about and a few are House bills that I was asked to be the Senate sponsor of.

I have a few that will create some waves. The most important is a bill that the Education Alliance asked me to sponsor that will generate $100 million for education over the next five years without raising taxes. It is truly a radical proposal but, given the recent study that showed how badly we are under-funding education, I believe it is necessary.

I also have legislation that will help open the door on state government a bit more. One bill would require the Governor's Club Fund to have a report filed like every other political fund. The other bill would require that legislative candidates must file a campaign finance report one week before the election. Currently candidates do not have to file until two months after the election. That seems to defeat the whole purpose of campaign finance.

Last week we heard the Governor give his State of the State address. He provided very few new ideas other than the fact that he wanted to raise the minimum wage. At the time he did not know by how much, but we have learned since then that he would like an increase to $6 an hour. He also addressed a plan he laid out in his budget address in December to offer $13 million to schools who wanted to buy laptop computers for their students. The schools would provide $2 for every $1 received from the state. This plan did not prove to be popular among schools that are already strapped for cash and do not have the money to match the state. The Governor backed off his proposal and is now offering $3 million for a pilot program. This is a much better plan.

On a personal note, I want to thank Meagan O'Connor who has served as a page the first two weeks of session. Pages are seniors in high school who spend a couple of weeks in Pierre acting as general "go-fers" for the legislators. They need to be sponsored by a legislator and I was very happy to sponsor Meagan. She did a great job of representing Vermillion High School.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about legislation, please contact me during the week at (605) 773-3821, on the weekend at (605) 624-6178 or anytime by email at sen.nesselhuf@state.sd.us.

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