Notes from Pierre

Notes from Pierre
We are just finishing up our fourth week of the 81st session of the State Legislature. It has been a very busy week. We will say goodbye to another great group of pages from our various high schools. They do a wonderful service for us and will probably end up being very civic minded citizens who will someday run for office.

South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Randy Frederick and South Dakota Democratic Chairwoman Judy Olson Duhamel held a joint press conference Wednesday to express their opposition to Amendment E, known as the Judicial Accountability Initiated Law or JAIL.

The press conference followed the House State Affairs Committee hearing on a House Concurrent Resolution which also opposed the ballot initiative. Twenty-one proponents including ag groups, labor unions, business organizations, and municipal associations testified in favor of the resolution, which passed 11-0.

JAIL is not only about judges, but citizen boards, county commissions, school boards, city councils, township boards, professional licensing boards and many others. It ignores the absolute constitutional right criminals have to appeal judgments, it demands a center for a special Grand Jury to meet but it cannot be located within a mile of any other court facility. This court will require a budget of approximately $2.65 million. I will close this part of my review with one last piece of information, although there is much more. Upon passage it allows a six-month period during which any person previously aggrieved at any previous time to file a complaint against anyone who may have ever crossed them.

Senate Bill 185 is a bill that came out of seeing picketing against the war at the funeral services at military funerals in Rapid City, Yankton, and Huron. The bill says that picketing would be prohibited within 1,000 feet of any funeral service including services at cemeteries or the procession route from one hour before the service and one hour afterward. It is too bad that this type of behavior has to be legislated. Even if one does not agree with the war one should have respect for those who died while serving our country.

The House passed 1155 that will allow local units of government regulate the sales, distribution, marketing, promotion, and use of tobacco products. Since 1995, only the state could regulate tobacco. The state will continue to set minimum rules, but the counties and cities can have stricter measures. This assumes, though, that their rules cannot be less strict than the state's.

I had the honor and privilege of presenting a commemoration to Tom Craig as Outstanding School Board Member of the Year 2006. Rep. Jamie Boomgarden and Sen. Ben Nesselhuf and I joined Tom and fellow board members Nick Merrigan, and Mark Bottolfson at the Associated School Boards office for a delightful lunch with some of their members. Secretary Melmer also attended.

There are many more bills that I could report on but I felt it was important to talk at length about JAIL. I've enjoyed visiting with those of you who have visited the capitol. I'm afraid if I start naming you that I will leave some people out.

Thanks again for allowing me to serve you.

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