Many of the education bills related to the advocacy funding are hitting hard waters over in the Senate committees. The big bill SB 120, which requests $133 million for education on top of what is being received right now, has its biggest hang up on how it limits the growth of government. I do not mind limiting growth on government from a philosophy point of view. However we have little control over many things such as Medicaid expenses, prison population growth, or the new prescription drug plan, to name a few. We can't tell the public that only 3 percent of you are allowed to get sick this month. I do not feel the public wants state government to release dangerous prisoners from custody to keep within the 3 percent growth. And I do not feel the public would appreciate the government to limit your prescription drug use to only 3 percent increase per person already enrolled, even though the doctor says you need it. For these reasons it is my opinion, the bill does not work.
A bill of interest this week mainly for Turner County is the consolidation of sports cooperatives in HB 1193 which made it to the House floor and failed 26-42. This bill was an attempt to take the back door approach to try and close schools by saying that after seven years of a coop agreement the schools must either consolidate or stop that sport altogether. The only exception would be if the coop agreement was between schools greater than 20 miles apart.
HCR 1004 is basically a statement from the Legislature directed towards the people of South Dakota regarding Amendment E which is on the November ballot. JAIL stands for Judicial Accountability Initiated Law, and is being pushed by an out-of-state group from California which is hoping that this state adopts this amendment to the State Constitution to start a precedence which will trickle to other states. What this amendment does is hold not only judges accountable but every person who sits on school boards, city council, any government, who operates under good samaritan laws, fire department board members, etc. It is a very bad amendment with very bad consequences in terms of lawsuits and potential jail sentences for any citizen government or organization. That is why the House passed this resolution 67-0 asking the voters to think long and hard before they support this amendment in the November elections.
HB 1118 adds a new category to eluding a law enforcement officer, and passed the House floor 50-18. If someone eluding an officer is driving recklessly or if they cause serious bodily injury or death, they can now be charged with a class 6 felony. From my personal experience when I worked for the Sheriff's office, this is a good bill and long overdue. It now goes to the Senate.
I feel I need to explain a little for why I voted against HB 1155. This bill gives cities/counties permission to regulate the sale, distribution, and use of tobacco products in its jurisdiction. I voted against this bill, for the same reason why I voted against HB 1193 described above. I am not a fan of behind the back tactics to try and stop behaviors that others do not like, such as taxing it out, etc. I still stand by last year's vote of a statewide ban on smoking due to its health effect. One of my concerns allowing each town having a separate ordinance is that it could be a county sheriff's nightmare. The county would look like a polkadot map where here you can chew tobacco, this town you can smoke only, this town you can only have cigars, this town you can't do any of the above. It passed the house 44-24.
Towns with industrial parks may shift taxes on up to $100,000 of real property to the rest of the city/county if HB 1112 makes it through the senate. It gives towns a small break in taxes with their industrial park until the land/building is transferred to another party. In the long run if a business does come to this park it should benefit all affected by bringing jobs and paying its own taxes in the future. It passed the house 63-3.
HB 1137 easily passed the House 68-0 due to the harm people have suffered from certain counselors. There is a statute that anyone who calls themselves a "licensed professional counselor" is in violation of a law. Unfortunately some out there are calling themselves just "counselors" and the law can do nothing about it. This bill creates a whole licensing act which should prevent these counselors from causing further harm to the victim or others once they are identified. If this bill passes the house not just anyone can open an office and call themselves a counselor and bill unsuspecting people for shady service. The information that some of these counselors obtain from confidential sessions (deep secrets that you'd never tell anyone) are being used against the victim by the bad counselor in both legal and marital conflicts.
Lastly, for you pet owners who are concerned about what will happen to your pet after you are unable to take care of the animal due to illness or death, HB 1178 is set up to help. This bill will allow people with these concerns to establish trusts which will preserve their estate to care for the animal when they cannot. It passed the house 40-27 and goes to the Senate.
Remember the troops and their families for what they do for us!
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