Heinemann’s March 13 legislative report

This past week wrapped up the Legislative Session for 2016, with the exception of veto day on March 29. We passed the General Bill, SB 172, and again have a balanced budget. If you look at other states, we should feel fortunate that we don’t deficit spend. I have not heard whether there will be any vetoes.
The education package of four bills passed with some important amendments. One on HB 1182 involved requiring that at least 85 percent of the increased funding a school district receives through the new formula be applied directly to teachers’ salaries, with a penalty clause if that does not happen. For fiscal year 2018, the school district would lose 50 percent of the new money, if found noncompliant, and $500/teacher for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021.
We also added that same provision on to SB 131, which was the bill to change the way we fund school districts. The prior formula was on a per student allocation (PSA), but this bill would change it to target teacher ratio. In essence, the more students per teacher a school has, the more funding they would get. I think it’s important to understand that there were several amendments that were considered, and, after much vetting, several changes were made to the Governor’s original bills, including the requirement that the majority of the increase in new money go to teacher pay, with a penalty if noncompliant, and an option for school districts to opt out of the new formula if they would fare better with the status quo (due to the future loss of “other revenues”). I’m cautiously optimistic these bills will provide a change everyone will be happy with!
The Governor signed SB 72, which would prohibit the abortion of an unborn child who is capable of experiencing pain.  I spoke on the floor about the substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by 20 weeks after fertilization. I was happy to see that both houses agreed and the Governor signed the bill.
SB 171, an act to authorize the limited use of certain types of medical cannabis had passed in the Senate, and had moved out of House Health and Human Services committee on a vote of 7-6 onto the House floor. This bill would allow cannabidiol (CBD) to be used only for intractable (uncontrolled) epilepsy. It was a difficult decision for me to oppose this bill, but the medical providers did not want this change as they would be asked to prescribe a drug that has not gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The House agreed  on a vote of 25-43, and the bill was defeated.
The rest of the week was spent working out differences between the two houses on various bills in what we call conference committees. We were able to vote on the G bill on Friday morning and it did not go as late as it normally does on the last day.
It has been a honor serving the citizens of District 8. If you have any questions or concerns, contact  me at rep.heinemann@state.sd.us

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