Guest Editorial

Guest Editorial
We have one full week remaining which will mostly be dealing with bills on the House floor since all the committees have basically finished their work. The big news of the week was the sudden report appropriations received that indicated State revenues were coming in less than expected. This has caused everyone to start scrambling to find places to cut spending and others to start asking questions as to why did this just now come to light. Several bills have lots of support such as education plans, highway patrol, tech school funding and other special legislator requests. Those asking questions are wondering if later in the year, after session is out, new projected numbers will come out and be determined that we could have actually funded these extra requests. We have already seen reaction to the news as by the way bills with money that originally had lots of support are now being killed in appropriations (with caucus support, including increasing legislative pay). Early projections of adding up all the bills from legislators, the Governors budget and with the decrease revenue projections, the State would have to tap into reserves by about 40-45 million. Some of this is backfilling expenses that occurred last year due to fires that occurred in the State parks and litigation expenses related to several of the 11 lawsuits the State is currently involved in. Therefore, issues such as the 2.5 percent increase for education may have now just changed from being the base to now being the ceiling that will occur – State statute says that funding will be the consumer price index or 3 percent, whichever is less. This year the consumer price index that I have been told is at 1.8 percent, so now technically that will be the base for education spending by the State.

Health committee this week has been pretty easy, most of the bills focused on continuation of health insurance benefits after an employee has these benefits stop for no reason of their own. Comererce committee on the other hand has had lots of action. One bill of interest goes out to those people who steal metal products for its scrap value at salvage yards. It would require salvage yards to report suspicious materials that are brought to their yard. It also requires salvage yards to maintain records of who, when, what and license plate of vehicle that brought in the material. What is happening is that the value of copper and other metals has increased so much lately that thieves are stealing whole rolls of copper off of electric trucks, and others are stripping buildings and businesses of the metal wiring. What is left behind is severe damage to homes, businesses, and loss of property. It passed the committee with no opposition.

The other committee bill drawing interest was SB 126 which is to take caps off the number of licenses to sell liquor in municipalities. Years ago a cap was created to limit the number of bars in towns. This limit has resulted in the few licenses available to fetch as much as 250 thousand in S.Falls and up to 500 thousand in Rapid City regions, as well as not being available to purchase for new businesses to come to the state. This bill was amended to include that in order to receive this license you must have 50 percent of your sales in food. It goes to the floor next week.

As for House Floor action this week, SB 77 passed by 57-13 and would permit news media recording and video allowed in the court rooms. If your case has enough interest in the public, you could very much see yourself on video. SB 133 easily passed to allow for DNA samples to be taken at the time of booking when a person is arrested for a felony. It also provides 3 reasons why the information would not be allowed in a criminal case such as the arrest being thrown out. This law basically follows Katies Law which is a nation wide push to pass legislation such as this to help find and/or connect criminals to unsolved cases. SB 34 passed the House which will allow "nurse" midwives to practice independent of a physicians agreement for assisting in home births in the mothers own place of choosing. This bill contain 8 pages of guidelines which the nurse midwife is to follow.

Next week bills will involve DME and process/procedure for acquiring land to expand the railroad, and another bill that will in a sense force two districts that do not have school and are located South of Canton and Alcestor to consolidate. Both will be very emotional as we are observing from e-mails and letters.

These bills and many others can all be viewed and the committee meetings can be heard on the archive links on the Legislative Research Councils web site.

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me at:

As always please keep all the American and Coalition Troops and their families in your thoughts and prayers as they are away from their homes in order to perform their duties.

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