Feb. 21 legislative report from Rep. Heinemann

By Rep. Heinemann

I was pleased to have Jordanne Howe, the State FFA president from SDSU, shadow me and learn more about the legislature and how it works.
On Thursday, we heard two separate bills in House Health and Human Services. The first one was on midwifery, which established a statute in our code to allow Certified Professional Midwives to deliver very low risk babies at home.  It passed out of committee pretty easily, and will be on the floor next week.
The other bill dealing with dyslexia, was heard a second time as there were so many proponents for it, it had to be split into two days. After a lot of deliberation, that passed out of committee. Many parents that have dyslexic children, have found out the schools may test for it but are not required to. This bill would require that schools test for it. Many of you have contacted me on that issue. I will keep you posted on the progress of the bill.
Later that afternoon, we took up the House Bill 1182.  That had been deferred by the 5-17 rule again on Tuesday. That action can only be used twice on the same bill, so it was calendared for Thursday. As I had discussed previously, there were several amendments. The first one which we considered, made the collection of the half cent sales tax be compliant with the Streamline Sales Tax Initiative. There were at least 10 amendments that were drawn up, but the main two we took up on Thursday, dealt with reallocating money to the four South Dakota technical schools from the $40 million in extra money collected in the potential  half cent sales tax increase.
The second amendment was a lengthy process to find a way to make sure the majority of the increased revenue from this sales tax collection would go directly to teacher salaries. I decided after much careful thought, it didn’t seem right that we collect an additional half cent sales tax for teacher pay and then redistribute 40 percent of it to other groups that had not been identified in the Blue Ribbon report as having requested any assistance, nor was it a goal of the Blue Ribbon panel.
I was one of the 23 No votes, as I believed we should look within our means to find efficiencies in the budget before we passed this $107 million dollar tax increase, which would have been the largest ever in the history of our State, and 40 percent of the collected tax wasn’t even going to K-12 teachers.
Many of you have contacted me thinking I voted against teacher pay, but I voted against the method of how we would increase teacher pay. I am committed to finding the source to fund the much needed increase. This will be a long process and please understand this is not a simple up or down vote.
Once we make this decision, we will move on and try and address all the other issues that we have before us. I appreciate your respectful  feedback.  It has been a difficult 10 days for me. You can contact me at rep.heinemann@state.sd.us

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