The first week of session is in the books. It’s been a whirlwind so far. The week started with Governor Daugaard outlining his top priorities in his State of the State Address. They include:
- Highway and Bridge Funding: the Governor announced he will be introducing legislation to generate about $50 million in new annual revenue to fund highways and bridges. The funding would come from the following sources: 1) increase the motor vehicle excise tax from 3% to 4% = $26.1 million. 2) increase the motor fuel tax by 2 cents annually = $13 million. 3) 10% increase in license plate fees = $8.7 million. 4) increase license rate from noncommercial ag trucks from 60% to 70% of the commercial rate = $2 million. 5) increase ethanol tax by 2 cents annually = $750,000. The bill also allows counties to assess up to $1.20 per $1,000 and townships up to 50 cents per $1,000 for highway purposes. The proposal from a different bill to tax red-dye fuel that many farmers contacted me about is NOT a part of the Governor’s bill.
- Juvenile Justice Reform: Governor Daugaard also outlined his plan to reform the juvenile justice system in South Dakota with the goal of increasing public safety, holding juvenile offenders accountable and reducing juvenile justice costs.
- Workforce Development: the Governor announced his continued focus on workforce development and discussed several initiatives:
- Build Dakota Scholarship Program – funded by a $25 million donation by Denny Sanford and matched by the state over 5 years to provide scholarships for students to attend state technical institutes.
- Career and Technical Education – increasing interest in K12 CTE programs like welding, machining, and construction trades.
- Dual Credit – last year the legislature approved a new ow-cost dual credit program to allow high school juniors and seniors to earn university or technical institute credit for courses that also count toward high school graduation for only $40 a credit hour. The response from young people has been overwhelming.
The following day Supreme Court Justice David Gilbertson delivered the State of the Judiciary address. He outlined the drug and DUI courts, juvenile justice reforms, and touched on the issue of domestic violence. He also introduced the new Supreme Court Justice, Janine Kern.
Initial committee work has started. I serve on Education and Commerce & Energy Committees. In both committees our time was spent setting the groundwork for the issues that we will discuss.
You can keep track of what’s going on at legis.state.gov and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you in Pierre. I remain very grateful.