We’ve finished day 25 of our 39-day Session. This past week we heard bills regarding guns, alcohol, balanced budget, education, abortion, and more. In addition, we had visits from US Senator Mike Rounds and US Rep Kristi Noem, both of whom shared how dysfunctional things are in Washington DC.
We saw several gun bills this week. The House voted down a bill that would have allowed university students 21 or older to carry concealed weapons on South Dakota’s 6 public campuses. I also voted against it. I’m a strong believer in 2nd Amendment Rights, but I don’t think hormones, alcohol and guns are a good mix. It failed 20-48. The House also voted down a bill that would have allowed concealed carry at the state capitol building. Last, HB 1215 passed in the House. It provides for an optional enhanced gun permit for a concealed permit. The measure allows reciprocity with 8 additional states. I supported the bill.
The House also voted down a measure to authorize the city of Deadwood to serve alcohol 24 hours a day. Currently, liquor can be served 19 hours a day, from 7am until 2am. The proponents said it would give Deadwood another tool to attract more people. The opponents argued that more alcohol means more drunkenness, crime, and naughtiness. I voted no, as did most of the House. The bill failed by a vote of 29-39.
We also saw 3 abortion bills in the House this week. I voted yes for all three. HB 1130 prohibits an abortion provider from accepting pre-payment for an abortion. It passed the House 63-4. HB1155 requires educational information to be given to a pregnant woman whose unborn child tests positive for Downs Syndrome. It passed 52-15. Last, HB 1230 affirms the sanctity of human life. It passed 65-3.
On the education front, the most significant issue we dealt with in the House was HB 1223, a measure to eliminate Common Core Standards. The Standards are a list of goals in Language Arts and Math that children should learn each year. The Standards have come under scrutiny from some groups. The legislation calls for the elimination of the current standards but does not offer a replacement. The bill failed in House Education Committee, but through a procedural technique was “smoked-out” to the floor. I am not married to Common Core Standards, but I am married to having great schools and giving our children every possible means for academic success. Without a workable replacement plan, I don’t support the bill.
The Big Stone School bill ran out of time to be heard in Senate Education. It’s rescheduled for this Thursday.
Over in the Senate, a proposal to create a special $7.50 youth minimum passed 26-7 and will be heading to us in the House. You might recall voters established $8.50 minimum wage in the November election. This would provide a carve-out wage for high school students. The belief is a $7.50 minimum wage for young people will help save youth-related jobs. The opponents say the voters changed the minimum wage for everyone and we shouldn’t have a carve-out. Let me know how you feel about it.
Also in the Senate this week, a plan to establish 9 river basin councils to oversee water and drainage management throughout South Dakota was approved. The legislation, SB2, will come to us in the House next. It calls for a pilot project in the Vermillion River basin. Nine sets of council members would be elected in 2018 and would receive taxing authority to operate. Senators voted 20-12 in favor of the measure. Please let me know how you feel about this.
The Senate also joined the House in passing a Joint Resolution calling for a state convention to draft a balanced budget amendment for the Constitution. The Resolution passed the House 39-30 and the Senate 19-13.
Another measure to come to the Senate was a bill that would have increased legislator pay from $6,000 to $10,000 per year. The Senate voted it down. Earlier in the session the House saw 2 bills that would have raised legislator pay one way or another. I voted against both. I think this issue is now dead for the year.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. Please feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can follow the progress of any bill at the South Dakota legislative website, http://legis.state.sd.us/, and of course you can always follow my voting record on my Facebook page. I provide it there so I can remain transparent and accountable to you. Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you soon!