The South Dakota Legislature has now completed its second week, and the pace of legislation is starting to pick up.
The first bill which I introduced this year (SB8) which codifies or places in the legal code, all of the laws which were passed in 2016 have now passed both houses of the Legislature. I have two other bills which I drew and which have now been filed.
SB64, which I prepared at the request of some of the water development districts, specifies that persons appointed to fill a vacancy on their board will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. This clarifies what was previously unclear.
SB68 allows manufacturers of alcoholic beverages such as Valiant Vineyards, to promote their brands by providing samples to consumers under strictly regulated conditions.
Every bill introduced in the Legislature has to go through four steps, Senate Committee, Senate Floor, House Committee and House Floor. I assume that both of these bills will be heard by their respective Senate Committees next week.
I also have a number of other bills that I am working on. Last week I filed the bill which the City of Vermillion requested, clarifying the malt beverage licensing statute. I am still working on obtain sponsors for a bill which regulates the use of drones by preventing placing guns on them and prevents them from being flown over prisons or used to deliver contraband, another bill which provides a discount on the cost of a marriage license for couples who have pre-marriage counseling and another bill which will clarify the process in juvenile court for juveniles who receive juvenile citations, particularly for truancy violations.
As I reported to you last week, one of the hottest topics so far this year has been what to do about IM22. This week a bill was introduced to repeal IM22 without waiting for the court to make a final determinations on its constitutionality and the huge legal fees that will be incurred in that process. (The court has already ruled that it is likely unconstitutional). It has always been a crime to bribe a legislator under Art III, section 28 of the South Dakota Constitution. Efforts have already been started to produce some replacement legislation that will accomplish what the voters wanted to do by IM22.
SB27 was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee of which I am a member. This bill creates a crime of “direct criminal conflict of interest,” which prohibits public officials from benefiting from conflicts of interest and defines it as theft. Under the theft statutes, it is a felony if the amount of money misapplied by the public official is more than $1,000 but a misdemeanor for smaller amounts. I also understand that some Democratic legislators have drafted a bill which covers some other potential problems with public integrity. I have been told by some of the Republicans who have seen the bill that they thought that it looked like a good bill, but I haven’t personally seen it yet.
We were told this week that the decision by Amazon to begin paying taxes in South Dakota could mean as much as $12 million per year eventually but won’t make much of a difference in this short fiscal year.
The members of the appropriation committee have reported to the senators that they have now heard funding requests from 23 state agencies with 12 still to be heard. The 23 agencies that they have heard so far have requested funding of around $80 million. I believe that these are mostly the smaller agencies and they still haven’t heard from the big agencies with big budgets.
So far this year, 124 bills have been introduced, compared to 134 bills at this time last year.