Week 3

On January 25, 2008, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Week 3 of the 2008 session.

Hello again from Pierre. It is hard to believe that another week has passed, but with the 4 day work week it probably should be expected. I hope the High School Juniors were able to read the articles that my daughter Molly wrote reflecting on her experience as a page. Hopefully it will inspire them to join us and enjoy an experience of their own.

This week the Appropriations committee continued our work of inviting the agencies and departments to the hearings to present and defend their portions of the general budget. The departments included the Board of Regents (8 hours of testimony) and the department of Human Services (4 hours of testimony) and then on Friday we had individual bill hearings for the House Appropriations committee. Most of the bills that we heard had to do with money that comes from either special funds or gifts, so will not affect the general fund dollars needed to run needed items in the state.

In session this week the activity has picked up and the number of bills that we voted on has increased. Many of the bills are still task force bills or agency bills trying to make changes in current laws that they feel would be better or a fix to arising concerns.

We heard from our Investment Council about the status of our Health Care Trust Fund and the Education Enhancement Trust Fund. The funds are healthy and continue to provide us with a good return to use as revenue for the state. The council also warned that we need to be careful not to spend more than absolutely necessary so the funds can keep pace with inflation and maintain it’s purchasing power. The desire to spend those funds is very real, but keeping them healthy and strong is the best for the long term health of the state. Not all agree with this and so we debate it every year.

We also got information on the property taxes and a couple of proposed changes and how they would affect the residents of our state. The meeting lasted about an hour and no specific bill was talked about, but the information was appreciated and hopefully will help us make informed decisions on the property tax bills that will be voted on this year.

Visiting the capitol this week included the Towns and Townships Association, County Commissioners and Officials, SD A.B.A.T.E., SD Newspaper Ass., SD Healthcare Ass., Community Health Care, Community Mental Health, just to name some of them. It is great to have the calls and notes to let me know when people from Dist 4 are here. It is great to see and visit with you, thank you for your efforts.

I need to keep this short because I’m off to my son, Miles, wedding. A great way to spend a weekend, welcoming another Daughter, Holli, into my family.

As always please contact me with any of your legislative concerns at 605-880-5015 or valrausch@hotmail.com or rep.rausch@state.sd.us Thank you and God Bless, Val


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