Week 2

On January 17, 2008, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Week 2 2008 Session

Hello again from Pierre, I will have Molly finish her report and get it to the paper as soon as possible. We are in the short session and with a 4 day work week, we have Friday off this week, so Molly had to go to school, so her final week’s report will be soon to follow.
The pages really had a great time and especially for me a very proud week!

The Appropriations committee met for an additional 22 hours this week, we continue to listen to the Departments defend their portion of the Governor’s budget. The departments that appeared in front of us this week included the Public Utilities Commission, Bureau of Finance and Management, Dept. of Tourism and State Development, State Treasure, State Auditor, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Revenue and Regulation, South Dakota Retirement System, Secretary of State, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, Dept. of Public Safety and the Dept. of Agriculture.

When the Dept of Public Safety was testifying we had a chance to hear how the Highway Patrol will be handling their proposed $2,000,000 cut. Many were concerned that their response and ability to patrol would be hurt or slowed. They assured us that the public safety will in no way be put in jeopardy. Their plan would mainly include controlling overtime and delaying or extending their car replacement schedules. Col. Mostellar assured the committee that, although the cuts were unwelcome, the services the public has depended on would be able to be met.

The Dept of Agriculture was happy to inform the committee that the State Fair has had a good year, exceeding their projected revenue. They were able to use the excess dollars to do some very necessary repairs and improvements to some of the buildings located on the fair grounds. The Governor has included the State Fair state money in the regular budget. Normally it has been issued through a special bill that goes through the legislature. I believe the Appropriations committee will insist we continue to give the state fairs’ money in the same fashion and remove it from the general bill and offer a separate bill to accomplish the same results. Sec. Even also said they will be hiring a new fair manager soon.

With the slow down in the State’s revenue most of the budgets are very similar to last year with only the necessary changes being proposed. It will be interesting to see if the rest of the Agencies and Departments carry on with the same trend.

The 4 day work week is having an effect on the committees that normally meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There seems to be a larger number of bills this year and with those committees losing one day every week they have started hearing bills as early as 6:30am. Serving on appropriations leaves me little sympathy for these committees, but it is nice to have the extra company in the early hours at the capitol.

With the shortened session the last bills to be entered will be submitted Wednesday, at that point we will know which bills need to watched and either passed or killed. As always please contact me as soon as you hear of a bill that affects you and I will help you get the answers to your concerns. The voting next week will start being on major issues so please keep yourself informed. You can track bills on the internet at legis.state.sd.us/session/2008/ or call me at 605-880-5015 or email me at rep.rausch@state.sd.us. Thank you again for all your support. God Bless


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