Week 7

On February 23, 2007, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Week 7

Hello again from Pierre,

We are now in our last 10 days of the 2007 session and as everyone is well aware we have a lot of work to do yet, especially in the Education funding bills. There are bills in both the House and the Senate and now the negotiations will begin as to what parts of these bills will be adopted. Many hours of negotiations will lead to an education package that will be passed by both Houses. In the end, I believe it will be a step in the right direction and get additional dollars for our schools for an extended period, allowing our school boards to prepare budgets based on a more predictable future commitment from the Legislature. It will be interesting.

In appropriations we have finished listening to all of the bills with special funding requests, or all but 1 and by Monday noon we will also be done with that one. That will allow us to direct our attention to the General Bill, we will comb through each departments budgets and make our final recommendations as to any changes we feel should be made. We will probably have those decisions made by Friday and then we will be able to send the bill to Houses for there consideration and vote.

This year we have made a big commitment to try and treat or rehab our meth addiction problem. We approved spending for both the Corrections program and the Judicial program. The corrections program is designed to get the inmates off meth and then keep them off. Hopefully never to return to the correctional system again and kick their addiction. The Judicial system will try a program that will keep people out of jail and allow them to go through a very intense program while staying in their homes and keeping their jobs. If both are successful it will save the State millions of dollars in the future.

The abortion bill was defeated in the Senate this week in committee, the Minimum wage bill is still alive and will be coming through the House next week. Bills concerning property taxes are still to come also. The message therapy bill reached a compromise and hopefully the changes will prove to be beneficial for all concerned.

The Associations that visit the Capitol have really slowed, I think it means that they have all been here. It amazes me that there are so many associations. There is an association for everyone. The groups this week included: SD Engineering Society, SD Transportation Providers, Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise had their charitable gaming night, SD Elk Producers, SD Dietary Managers Assoc. and the SD Elk Breeders Assoc.

Thanks again to all those that make the effort to come to Pierre, it truly is nice to see familiar faces.

If you are following bills and need input from me or have input for me, please contact me immediately. Things will move very fast this week and by all means feel free to email HYPERLINK “mailto:rep.rausch@state.sd.us” rep.rausch@state.sd.us or call 605-880-5015.

Until next week God Bless,

Rep. Val Rausch

 

Week 6

On February 16, 2007, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Week 6

Hello again from Pierre,

I’m writing this letter on Friday morning. Friday is cancelled due to the bad weather forecasted for this afternoon and the fear that we would be stranded in Pierre for the weekend so it was decided to change our calendar and add one day to the end. We will now finish the session on Mar. 7th instead of the 6th as originally scheduled. Not a big deal, but please watch the deadline dates, they now have all moved as well, could be very interesting. Our crossover date was supposed to be today (Friday) but now it will be Tuesday. Tuesday will be a very long day, lots of bills on the calendar.

This week in appropriations was very busy as we made decisions on all the House Appropriation bills. Lots of tough decisions, but we only have so much money to work with. Hopefully we made the right decisions. None of our decisions are law yet, as the Senate will now have a chance to agree with our decision or to do as they see fit. It is a good checks and balance, but can be very frustrating.

This week the bill I proposed for a change it the open meetings law will be killed in the Senate. It is not because they don’t like the bill, it is because our Attorney General, Larry Long, recommends we wait a year because there is currently litigation in the courts that may affect what we are trying to accomplish. The AG is recommending we wait till next year and then try again. I agree with him and have asked to have my bill killed.

This week in the House we passed bills to fund the State Fair, to put further restrictions on Abortions, increase funding for our Soil Conservation Districts, approved the Omnibus Water bill, which funds most of the state’s rural water and community water projects, continued the funding for the Opportunity Scholarships, also approved a variety of repair projects to the buildings at our Universities. We also approved a 24/7 sobriety project to help keep people at home instead of always sending them to jail. Hopefully this project will help problem drinkers learn to live at home without drinking, it sounded very promising.

Many of the biggest issues will still be coming, such as, education spending bill, property tax reform, education spending and of course education spending.

My page, Joe Brandt, was here these last 2 weeks. He is a great young man and it was a real treat having him as my page. Thank you Joe. Hopefully, he enjoyed his experience and will encourage others to apply next year.

The evening events have slowed down somewhat, but one of the nicest events of the year was last night (Thursday) it was the Military Ball. It was well attended, in spite of the weather warnings, and it was great to see all those dress uniforms from every branch of the armed forces, very, very impressive. It is my favorite event of the session and encourage any that are invited to not miss it, you won’t be sorry. Thank you to all our veterans for all they have sacrificed for our freedoms.
If you are following bills and need input from me or have input for me, please contact me immediately. Things will move very fast this week and by all means feel free to email HYPERLINK “mailto:rep.rausch@state.sd.us” rep.rausch@state.sd.us or call 605-880-5015.

Until next week God Bless,

Rep. Val Rausch

 

Week 5

On February 9, 2007, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Hello again to Dist 4,

It’s hard to believe we have just finished week 5 of the session.

This week was a little different for me, as we are now in sub-committees and really picking up the work on the individual bills that require special funding. The appropriation bills for special funding total about 40 bills and many millions of dollars, there are many good ideas and some not so good, but by Wed or Thurs of next week we will have to decide which of these bills we will recommend to the rest of the House for their consideration and passage. It will be long mornings and tuff decisions. Hopefully we will be able to find the money for the worth while causes.

By next week, Friday, the House will have to make decisions on all the House Bills, if we fail to act on a House Bill by then it will be dead. The Senate will do the same, from that point on it will be the House’s turn to now decide on which Senate bills we think should be law and the Senate will consider all the House Bills we passed. This is known as cross over day, could be longer sessions late next week as we get through all the bills.

If you are following the bills closely you will see bills passed that will make little sense. This, in most cases, will be to keep the idea (bill) alive, but we still need to work on the details or final amounts. They will be amended in the other Chamber as we get past the cross over day. Bills that usually are in this group would be the education funding & policy bills, property tax bills, the bills for the new tobacco tax revenues, the bills concerning campaign finance reform, and well, who knows. Lots of work left to do.

As always we had a lot of visitors this last week. Some of those groups included SD Pharmacists, SD Physical Therapists, SD Nurses Assoc., Veterans of Foreign Wars, SD Student Federation, SD Insurance Agents Assoc., Missouri River Energy Services, Farm Credit Services, SD Municipal League, Voices for Children, SD Bankers Assoc., Children’s Care Hospital & School, SD Credit Union, SD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and SD Dental Assoc. It really was great to see so many from the District. Thank you for letting me know you are in town. Those visits really mean a lot to me.

If you are following bills and need input from me or have input for me, please contact me immediately. Things will move very fast this week and by all means feel free to email HYPERLINK “mailto:rep.rausch@state.sd.us” rep.rausch@state.sd.us or call 605-880-5015.

Until next week God Bless,

Rep. Val Rausch

 

Week 4

On February 2, 2007, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Hello again to Dist 4,

We are just finishing up the 18th day of our Legislative Session, almost half way done. It sure has gone quickly to this point. We have reached the end of the bill introductions with a total of 531 dropped, 312 in the House and 219 in the Senate. The committees have been hearing bills regularly and the action in both houses has really picked up.

This week found the appropriations committee finishing the agency portion of the general spending bill. We will now start hearing more special bills for spending that was not included in the Governor’s budget proposal. We will also break into smaller sub-committees to better look into things that were new or seemed to change more than normal.

I was able to pitch a bill concerning a small change in the open meetings laws. The bill I proposed would allow members of political sub-divisions to attend meetings of other political sub-division, a board, a commission, an association, an agency or any other public entity for which public notice has been posted under current law for the purpose of providing information or observing without needing to post it as a meeting. This would allow a little more flexibility especially for smaller governing bodies. It passed the committee on a 12-0 vote and will be voted on the House floor on Monday Feb. 5th. It will be interesting to follow the progress of this bill.

The Senate made their final decision on Sen. Sutton, they decided that the appropriate punishment would be a public Censure and that was done on Wednesday. Everyone is glad to have that chapter now finished and allow business to get back to normal. I have been asked about Rep. Roger Hunt’s case and why we haven’t addressed that problem in the House. My response is that it is a matter of interpretation of the law and a judge is reviewing both, the Attorney General’s and Rep. Roger Hunt’s interpretations and will be making the final decision. When that decision will come, who knows!! The Judge could even rule that the law is too broad and they may both be right and the law needs changing. We will have to wait and see.

We will have many long days coming up as we approach crossover day, this is the day in which all bills that started in the House must be voted on and sent to the Senate and visa versa. Also the content of these bills will include abortion, death penalty, open fields, property tax, education funding, and of course many other things. Should be very exciting.

This last week was again very busy with visitors to the Capitol. These groups included SD Farm Bureau, Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls & Rapid City, Ag Fest, Associated General Contractors, SD Farmers Union, SD Ethanol Producers, Assoc. of Realtors, Homebuilders, & Land Title, SD Superintendents , SD Assoc. of County Commissioners, State Federation of Labor/ AFL-CIO and the SD School Nutrition Assoc. In spite of some poor weather there was a good turnout and again it was nice to visit with those from District 4.

By all means feel free to email HYPERLINK “mailto:rep.rausch@state.sd.us” rep.rausch@state.sd.us or call 605-880-5015.

Until next week God Bless,

Rep. Val Rausch