Week 3 of the Legislative Session

On January 28, 2011, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Hello again from Pierre.

Week 3 was a very difficult week for me. I was the unfortunate victim of the flu. Not very much fun, if you have not received a flu shot you may want to think about it. I was able to make it to the Speakers Podium and committees, but I looked like I should have been in recovery.

As the session continues the bill count continues to climb, 250 bills will probably be the number we finish with for the House this session. Our average would be over 300, so not too bad, but a busy finish to the rest of the session. Several of these bills are, what we call, place holders or vehicle bills, designed to allow us to follow the rules but have a way to work on the final wording for the bill, without having to suspend the rules to do so.

As the session starts to take shape it is obvious that the discussion will center around the budget. The Governor’s budget is still the working document we are using to move through the legislative process. The Appropriations committee continues to look through the agency budgets in hopes of finding a few additional cuts that will help us balance the State’s budget. It will be a few weeks yet before we will be able identify just exactly what will be needed in cuts or in increased revenues to make the budget work. With the Governor promising to veto any tax increases it puts a lot more pressure on us because our options now require a 2/3 majority support or consensus on making the cuts, two tough choices.

In committee this week we heard a variety of bills, some in Local Government included changing requirements to be eligible to qualify as a voter in a water district, to provide deadlines for Auditors to file election results, to change requirements for Auditors to help find abandoned mobile homes in the county and finally to kill a bill that would let the state set salaries for the county commissioners.

The committee on State Affairs heard bills dealing with employers being forces to allow employees to respond to emergencies while they are at work, a bill requiring the State to approve all purchases of land by the Game, Fish and Parks over a certain acreage and also a bill requiring land purchases to be approved by the State Senate, none of these ideas passed. The biggest bill we addressed would have been the constitutionalilty of the Federal Health Care Bill to force the residence of the State to purchase insurance. The bill would have nullified the federal law. This idea, although very popular, was not supported, for several reasons. The main reasons were that we are already in a lawsuit with the federal government so no need for this bill and there was no place in code to put this bill, with no instructions for as to who would enforce the law and to whom it would be enforced against. In the end it was defeated 13-0.

I did attend the cracker barrel in Clear Lake this weekend and the conversation centered around the budget and the crisis that a 10 percent cut would do to the Deuel School system. Several suggestions were offered as to how to resolve the lack of revenue for the state. All of the suggestions to increase revenue would require a 2/3 vote and that task will be very tough to accomplish. We will continue to work on finding common ground that will lighten the burden for schools and providers and still allow us to balance our budget. Thank you to all who participated and offered suggestions to help solve our States problems.

Again my contact info is rep.rausch@state.sd.us or valrausch@hotmail.com. Or call and leave a message at 605-880-5015.

Sincerely, Speaker Val Rausch


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