By Rep. Ray Ring
As you might expect, activity picked up during the State Legislature’s fourth week. I enjoyed visiting with school superintendents, especially the ones from District 17.
Congratulations to Superintendent Mark Froke and the Vermillion School District for being chosen to receive a $99,000 state grant to provide Career and Technical Education for students from Vermillion and seven other school districts in this area. This is a cooperative project, with Builders Choice of Vermillion providing materials and equipment for students’ hand-on learning in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing skills. Students completing the program will be ready to work for companies throughout the area.
Congratulations also to Al Leber, Superintendent of Dakota Valley School District, former principal of Vermillion High School, and still a resident of District 17. The School Administrators of South Dakota recognized him last week in Pierre as this year’s Outstanding Superintendent.
House Bill 1185 was probably the most controversial one on the House agenda last week. It will expand the number of nonresident waterfowl licenses, beyond the current limit of 4,000. To qualify for one of these special licenses, a nonresident must be a close relative of a current South Dakota resident with a waterfowl license, and either have been born in South Dakota or owned a South Dakota resident waterfowl license in the past. The bill also provides special treatment for South Dakota-born nonresident veterans.
I received many emails from people opposing HB 1185 because they fear it will lead to crowded waterfowl hunting. Most proponents were from the tourism industry. Similar bills have failed for the last several years, and I voted against it, but it passed narrowly, 36-32.
Another bill that stirred up quite a bit of interest, HB 1093, would prohibit schools from starting the fall term before the last Monday of August. There are strong arguments and intense feelings on both sides, but I see this as a local control issue and feel the costs (especially pushing final exams until after the Christmas break) outweigh the benefits. I voted “no” and the bill failed 29-40.
House Joint Resolution 1002 would put on this fall’s ballot a constitutional amendment that extends legislators’ term limits from eight years to twelve years. I think term limits weaken the Legislature vis-à-vis the Executive Branch, because of legislators’ limited experience and lack of institutional memory, so I voted for the resolution. It passed 64-16. All three measures now go to the Senate.
Please don’t forget the two cracker barrels on Feb. 15: 10 a.m. at the Irene Community Center and 1:30 p.m. at the Viborg School Library. There will also be a cracker barrel on March 1 at 10 a.m. in Vermillion City Hall. You can reach me directly at Rep.Ring@state.sd.us or (605) 675-9379. I want to hear from you.