Legislative View

Legislative View
The 82nd South Dakota Legislative Session kicked off this week with the swearing in of the legislators. Senate Democrats picked up five seats and welcomed six freshman Senators. The balance in the Senate is now 15 Democrats to 20 Republicans. Following the oaths, Gov. Mike Rounds gave the State of the State Address. Rounds highlighted several vital issues including minimum wage, the state aid to education formula, teacher pay and ethanol.

Rounds plans to provide incentives for cleaner coal gasification power plants and expand learning opportunities for Native American students. He said the state will match funds to provide a vaccine to South Dakota girls to prevent HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.

Many South Dakotans support an increase in the minimum wage, and there is some indication that Rounds may mirror the federal increase. Democrats will continue to consult with the governor to see this higher wage rate materialize.

Regarding K-12 education funding, Rounds said the state paid $62 million more to schools than was legally required over the last four years. Some of the funds schools received was a one-time increase in resources, which does not impact teacher salaries.

Finally, Rounds touched on renewable fuels in South Dakota by mentioning the successful expansion of our ethanol industry. He said the success of ethanol starts with our state government's use of flex-fuel vehicles.

Key goals for the Democrats include an increase in K-12 education funding, higher wages for South Dakota's lowest-paid workers, expanding our economy by concentrating on wind energy and bio-diesel, economically expanding the state risk pool and fixing the campaign finance laws.

This session I was elected to serve as chairman of the Democrat Caucus. In this position, I run the caucus meetings and help the new members learn the ropes. It is a great honor to serve my fellow members in this capacity. I also serve on the education, state affairs and legislative procedure committees. These are all high profile committee assignments and I expect that we will stay very busy.

If you have any concerns about the upcoming session, please feel free to contact me at sen.nesselhuf@state.sd.us or during the week at 605-773-3821.

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