2009 week 1

On January 24, 2009, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Week 1 of the 2009 Legislative Session

 

What a week.  The first day of session starts with the Oath of Office for the entire Legislature, then the elections of the Speaker of the House, Speaker Pro Tempore and the Chief Clerk of the House.  All of the appointments of the staff, interns and pages all follow and then the arrival of the Governor and the State of the State address.   Normally I see these events as formality as we ready for the work at hand, but this year was a little different, I was elected as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House.  What an honor.  I will now be working with the Speaker and must be ready to take over if the Speaker needs to be absent for any reason.  It is really a speaker in training position and in 2 years, if re-elected, I will be Speaker of the House.  Still hard to believe.

 

The Governor’s State of the State address was hard to hear this year.  The Economy was the main topic and we all know what that has been doing nationally.  We found out that the State, although not as bad, is in tougher financial shape than we thought when the Governor gave us the budget in Dec.  Enough has changed since then that the Governor took back his proposed budget and is redoing it.  He will give us the new budget on Thursday of this week.  The Governor is warning us that it will be a much tighter budget than originally proposed.  He has already indicated that fees and exemptions will be very strongly considered for adjustments and increases.  We must wait until Thursday and then the Governors recommendations will be fully known.

 

With my new role in the House I have also received new committee assignments.  Because of the extra demands of the Speaker Pro Tempore serving on appropriations was no longer possible.  The Speaker has appointed me to House State Affairs and House Local Governments.  I will be the Vice Chair of House Local Governments.  The change in committees will also be a new experience, but one that I look forward to.  The State Affairs Committee will handle the most important or most controversial bills because this committee is made up of the Leadership of both the Majority and Minority parties.  The Committee for Local Governments will handle just that, local government issues.  With my experience as Mayor of Big Stone City for 6 years, I felt that I would understand many of the issues that will come before this committee and I look forward to those challenges as well.

 

As this session gets underway I again want to encourage your participation in the legislative process.  Please let me know if you have concerns with certain bills and let me know what they are and which bill #’s they have so I can track them and respond to your concerns.  We will be struggling with the budget and I’m sure that will take most of the press, but many other issues will surface.  Things such as a smoking ban, property tax reform, sales tax, license fees for cars and drivers, gas tax, ethanol, wheel tax, school funding, and many others.  So please contact me with your concerns at the earliest possible opportunity.  Again my contact info is rep.rausch@state.sd.us or valrausch@hotmail.com.   Or call and leave a message at 605-880-5015. 

 

Thank you again for the privilege of representing you in Pierre.  I never see it as anything less than a great honor.    Sincerely,  Rep. Val Rausch

 

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