I am working on a few bills so far this session. One would require that people who witness abuse of senior citizens must report it in the same fashion as people who witness child abuse. Elder abuse is a serious issue in South Dakota and across the country. We need to do everything we can to protect those in our society who are the most vulnerable, whether they are in the early stages of life or the later.
Another bill I'm sponsoring would make it a little easier to adopt children internationally. Currently when a child is adopted from another country, the federal government recognizes the child as a citizen immediately. South Dakota law requires that the family go through a court preceding that costs the family hundreds of dollars. This is unnecessary. International adoption is costly and lengthy enough. We don't need to add more time and expense to the process.
I have a few other pieces of legislation that deal with rural water districts and recycling facilities.
The secretary of state is bringing a bill that is a comprehensive update of our campaign finance laws. This has been an issue that I have been pushing for several years. It is time to demand transparency from candidates for office. The most important part of the secretary's bill would require legislative candidates, like me, to file a campaign report before the election. Currently the first report I file is two months after the election. Last year I sponsored legislation to do the same thing as proposed this year, and it failed in committee. I'm convinced that with the secretary's endorsement, it will pass this year.
A few other bills of interest: Senate Bill 42, proposed by the Department of Revenue and Regulation, may discourage citizens from buying tobacco products from neighboring states by enforcing the voter-established tobacco tax.
It may become easier to receive child support if the House agrees with the Senate to pass a bill that would allow adopted children to be included in calculating child support. At this time, only natural and stepchildren are counted.
If Senate Bill 62 passes in the House, it would allow employers to electronically withhold income on a volunteer basis in the collection of child support.
Senate Bill 66 would make it easier for Social Services to track people who are behind $1000 or more in child support by suspending certain state-issued licenses.
This week Democrats also presented their plan to enhance K-12 education funding. Sen. Scott Heidepriem said the plan involves using interest from state trust funds without tapping into the principal or raising taxes.
"This administration is content to invest in Treasury notes and mutual funds. As Democrats, we believe in diversifying our portfolio to include Treasury notes, mutual funds, and our children."
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the legislative session, you can reach me at email@example.com or call me at 605-773-3851 during the week or at home on the weekend at 605-624-6178. You can also keep up to date with developments at the South Dakota Senate Democrat Caucus Web site at www.sdsenatedems.com.