February 7 report from Rep. Heinemann

By Rep. Heinemann

Week four was just completed, and I attended the first cracker barrel in Flandreau to gather your feedback. It was good to see so many of you interested and engaged in the process, as I like to call it. We had discussions on a wide variety of topics, but, certainly, at the center was education. There were some good questions, but, as most of you know or have come to realize, more questions have developed over the course of the last four days.
The Governor “dropped” his four bills, not three as is reported in the news. If you look on the website, Senate bills 131, 132, 133 and House bill 1182 all contain significant rewrites of our education code. In addition to the proposed funding mechanism in the House bill, the other three Senate bills seek to move to a funding formula that is based on the teacher to student ratio, as well as impose new caps on school general reserve funds. It also removes the financial incentives built in to consolidation, as I suppose, the student/teacher ratio formula will address that, as well as clean up some language on special education, leaving that funding pretty much the same as before. Finally, it includes a number of proposals to recruit and retain more teachers. A lot to digest! You will be hearing more about the specifics in the future.
The House will take up SB 2, a bill I sponsored from our County Task Force, after it passed in Senate 28-5 and 13-0 in the Local Government this week. One of our own county commissioners came out and did an outstanding job presenting the county’s position as to why counties should share in the alcoholic beverage fund. We are trying to get some funds to help the counties out with the increasing costs of law enforcement and court costs.
SB 28 would require meningococcal vaccinations to 11-12 year olds. I voted against this proposal after hearing all the testimony, but it passed in committee 7-6. I have heard from some of you, but we will take a vote on the House floor sometime soon, so let me know any further thoughts you may have. The evidence in support of the required vaccine is just developing, and the incidence is very small, but the devastation the disease can cause is quite extensive, including death. Please read up on it and let me know how you feel about this. I generally support our vaccine program, but this vaccine is fairly new and does not contain one of the five serogroups, B, so I still question the efficacy of what would be a mandate. It is available for those of you that choose to include it in your child’s healthcare.
As we approach the halfway point, we will be dealing with a variety of issues this coming week. It is impossible to cover them all, but it is important to mention a few to the citizens of District 8. Repealing the death penalty, selling alcohol on college campuses, imposing a corporate income tax, overturning the result of last year’s Initiated Measure 17, are just a few of the topics that various committees, and the two chambers as a whole, will take up this week. I encourage you to look into those issues that peak your interest, and to contact me rep.heinemann@state.sd.us, or you can call and leave a message at 605-997-2654.

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