Jan. 24 legislative report from Rep. Heinemann

By Rep. Heinemann

As the second week of the legislature draws to a close, I would like to give you an idea of the legislative process, since that process swung into full operation this past week.
Anyone, including constituents, can come up with an idea to introduce in the legislature, but you need an individual legislator or legislative committee to “sponsor” the idea, or bill, as we would categorize it. We usually have someone within the legislative research council (LRC) help draw up the wording, and then it is up to the sponsor or sponsors to gather support for the bill. We present our idea to different legislators, and in the process, can gather a sense of how practical and appropriate the idea is.
That is what was going on this last week, as well as the start of committee hearings, for those bills that had already been introduced, and assigned to a committee. A bill can start in the House or Senate, depending on who wants to sponsor the idea. Once you have the sponsors you need (signature on a sponsor sheet), then you turn the bill in and the LRC posts it on their Web site for all to be able to read. I’ll continue with the process in next week’s column.
I was on the County Summer Study Task Force this past summer, and several ideas came up for consideration to help the counties with the ever-increasing costs associated with law enforcement and criminal proceedings. With the changes in the Unified Judicial System (UJS) three years ago, and the Juvenile Justice reform, the counties have had to bear more of the costs associated with implementing the changes. Our District 8 counties have struggled to be able to not only hire and keep personnel, but have more duties to complete (ie. 24/7 program).
I was the prime sponsor for a bill to reallocate money from the alcohol beverage fund. Currently counties do not get a share and municipalities get 25 percent, with the state getting the remainder. This bill would give the counties 25 percent also, so the state, which receives over $11 million annually, would give about $3.8 million of that amount to the counties. It may not seem like a lot, but I believe anything we can do to help out the counties is of value.
There was a sales and use tax bill introduced to allow counties, for the first time, to be able to levy a sales tax. I didn’t support the idea in our summer committee, as I thought we had higher priorities we would be looking at, if we were to raise the sales tax. The bill was referred to the 41st day which, essentially, killed the bill.
This next week we will continue to hold hearings on bills, as well as file our own bills. They must be filed by Feb. 4, so the next week and a half will require lots of discussions and homework to prepare for their hearings. If you have an opportunity to come out and see the process in person, or to testify, please let me know. I’d be glad to meet with you. Reach me at rep.heinemann@state.sd.us. Until next week.

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