Week Seven Recap
SB 185 to establish the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – South Dakota and revise provisions related to the foreign ownership or control of agricultural land was not reconsidered and, for now, is dead in the legislature. For more on this hearing, click here.
SB 151 was a little hot topic this week. SB 151 was originally a student scholarship program for nonbeneficiary students enrolled in a tribally controlled institution of higher education. In its original form, this bill died in Senate Education but was then extensively amended (hoghoused) and no longer resembled the original intention of the sponsor. SB 151 became An Act to clarify information related to students that is not subject to survey analysis, or evaluation without consent.
Currently, parents must "opt-in" for their elementary and secondary school-age children to be surveyed at school. This bill would've shifted surveys to an "opt-out," meaning schools could collect information on the following: political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student's parent; mental or psychological problems or aspects of the student or the student's family; sex behavior or attitudes of the student or the student's family; illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior; critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships; legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships; religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student's parent; personal or family gun ownership; or income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program);
The argument for this bill: Schools (Rapid City Area Schools are an example) are missing out on grants because so few families are opting in for surveys that they do not have the data to submit to receive funding for educational and support resources for concerns such as teen alcohol and drug use, suicidal thoughts, and other risky behaviors. The argument against this bill: These types of surveys collect very sensitive information, including intrusive survey questions about sexual behaviors and attitudes, political affiliations, religious practices and beliefs, family relationships, mental health, gun ownership, their own possible illegal and anti-social behavior and anything else any private or public entity would like to know. These surveys strip the rights of all SD parents and violate students' right to privacy. For example, one commonly study used, the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, asks children as young as 11 years old:
"Have you ever been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when you did not want to?"
"During your life, with how many people have you had sexual intercourse? "
"How old were you when you had sexual intercourse for the first time?"
"Have you ever seriously thought about killing yourself?"
"Have you ever made a plan to kill yourself?"
"Have you ever tried to kill yourself?"
This bill went through committee and was originally on the consent calendar in the Senate but was pulled for debate. SB 151 was defeated in the Senate, but it is an excellent example of how last-minute maneuvers can take advantage of legislative procedure.
Speaking of hoghousing and last-minute maneuvers, let's talk about vehicle bills. Each year there are eight vehicle bills; these are assigned broad titles and open-ended bill descriptions and utilized in the final two weeks for legislation. They are hoghoused to final pieces of legislation, either bills that died and hopefully were amended to the satisfaction of the legislature or new needs that arise in the last two weeks that are deemed pertinent to be passed as soon as possible. Here are the examples of vehicle bills for this session:
SB 111 to establish and modify provisions related to economic development.
SB 112 to establish and modify provisions related to taxation.
SB 113 to establish and modify provisions related to education.
SB 114 to establish and modify provisions related to public safety.
HB 1141 to encourage the reduction of taxes in the State of South Dakota.
HB 1142 to improve education outcomes and college affordability.
HB 1143 to improve the health and well-being of South Dakotans.
HB 1144 to bolster the workforce of South Dakota.
These can be valuable tools in eleventh-hour negotiations. Some legislators will never vote in favor of a vehicle bill (a small minority), standing on the principle of not supporting a bill without assigned language, even though they can vote again once it contains language. In my experience, vehicle bills have been advantageous (funding for the Liberty Center was a product of a vehicle bill in the final countdown in 2021). There is hope for those wanting more to be accomplished for taxpayers- initiatives that encourage the reduction of taxes and establish and modify provisions related to taxation, among the other item themes listed above.
We're considering many projects in South Dakota with the funding we have. A few items we're addressing are covering inflation on construction projects we've already funded, fire safety and preservation of our forest in the Black Hills, investing in the Sanford Underground Research facility, and overhauls of a few major systems for the State of South Dakota, including the state accounting system and the motor vehicle system (SD Cars), as well as investments in needs for our prison system, and the possibility for routing water from the Missouri River both east and west. There are also a couple of infrastructure projects that require a portion of local funding- including rehabilitating the railroad from Sisseton to Milbank and airport infrastructure funding for airport improvements across the state.
There was also the presentation of the 2023 South Dakota Chamber Awards, including the Distinguished Legislative Service award honoring those involved in the Wayfair Decision: Attorney General Marty Jackley, Rep. Gary Cammack, Deb Peters, Andy Gerlach, Doug Schnikel, and Shawn Lyons. There was also the award for Outstanding Public Service, honoring individuals who served in cabinet-level positions for multiple governors: Deb Bowman (posthumously), Doneen Hollingsworth, Pam Roberts, and Sandy Zinter.
We also celebrated Water Week. Legislators wore blue to show our commitment to passing policies that will increase our water capacity, expand conservation efforts, prepare for future water needs, and enhance outreach efforts.
Finished off this week with the Taste of the Black Hills event in Box Elder!
Two weeks remain- thank you for the opportunity to serve the State of South Dakota and District 35.