Legislative Report

Legislative Report
Congratulations to Tom Craig of Vermillion for receiving "2005-06 Outstanding School Board Member." What a nice honor!

Horse riders and other non-motorized vehicles such as bicycles/tricycles may no longer be considered as a "vehicle" if House bill 1190 passes the Senate. It just passed in the House 66-2, and would mean that if you were intoxicated while riding either it would not be counted as a DWI offense in the state statute. This does not mean that a municipal ordinance couldn't come into play. The concern was that some people were actually being sent to the state penitentiary for their third offense DWI due to riding on a horse or a bicycle while intoxicated.

One bill that passed the House floor 66-6 was HB1084. This bill gives county governments the ability to restrict ATV (all terrain vehicles) use on designated roads or highways, regions or could be county wide if that is what the county commissioners would desire.

The reason for the bill is due to complaints of ATV riders in ditches that are jumping road approaches, damaging lawns and basically creating a lot of noise and concerns for the families living near these highway ditches. Since they are unlicensed vehicles they are exempt from the reckless driving laws and are really not breaking any laws unless they come up onto the highway itself. This should help with some of the problems.

Long-term care partnerships could be offered if House Bill 1072 makes it through the Senate and if federal law is passed in Congress. It made it easy through the House floor 68-0. The bill is designed to be an incentive for people to purchase long-term care insurance. Due to raising Medicaid costs, it is felt if people were purchasing long term care insurance it could delay and/or prevent someone from needing to be on Medicaid insurance. So what is the trade off?

The benefit of this bill is that for every dollar that the long-term care insurance pays in benefits, the beneficiary of the policy can retain $1 of asset. At this time to qualify for Medicaid you need to exhaust all assets and financial accounts before any benefits can be received. So under this bill if you exhausted a $100,000 long-term benefit policy you would be able to retain $100,000 of assets and still be able to receive Medicaid benefits.

This is a trigger bill, meaning it will be law as soon as the federal law regarding this issue passes, which is expected to happen relatively soon. One concern that is still being checked on is if present policies will be eligible for this program. There was some discussion that it may only apply to new policies.

House Bill 1080 is designed to create some requirements when private property is taken by eminent domain for public use. This bill made its way through the House 67-1. At the present time the South Dakota constitution is more restrictive than the federal laws which permit private property to be taken and sold to other private interests in other states.

HB 1080 reiterates this tighter restriction South Dakota has, and it also adds one provision. This provision is that within seven years, if the property taken is no longer needed for public use and is to be resold, the previous owner must be offered first option to buy back the property at assessed value or previous sale price (whichever is less and regardless of any improvements made to the property).

Agricultural ground is closer to having two classes of tax ratings if HB 1009, which passed the House 55-13, makes it through the Senate. Presently there is only one class of agricultural ground which needs to meet three of three criteria. The new second class will require only two of the three criteria to be met.

One of the criteria is also being changed. Presently 33 1/3 of the family's income must be agriculturally related to the land. It doesn't allow any exception of what the land is capable of producing. The new requirement will be that the land must produce at least 5 percent of its assessed value. These parcels of land must be at least 20 acres in size, however county officials have the option of requiring the parcels of land be greater (up to 160 acres) if they choose to.

HB 1188 is kind of a hard-to-believe bill. South Dakota has low taxes on insurance premiums compared to the rest of the states. However, for some policies there are restrictions that prevent them from being offered here in South Dakota. Some of these policies sell liquidity provisions for private placement policies. An example is when large market transactions which go bad in the futures market, commodities, etc., this insurance policy covers the delay needed for a person to liquidate their assets into cash. These extremely wealthy persons/companies have these policies in place to cover the time it takes to sell ships, oil wells, other properties and convert it into cash to cover their debt. This has huge economic potential since many of these policy premiums alone can cost up to $1 million. This will position the state to receive a portion of this premium through taxes. It passed the House Commerce Committee 13-0.

I welcome any feedback, comments or information you have regarding upcoming issues or bills.

Anytime you sit down to eat dinner take a moment to remember and give appreciation to the American troops that are away from their families performing the duties of our country.

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