Sen. Scott Parsley’s week nine legislative report

The final week of the 2016 legislative session came to an end at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, March 11. This is a historically early conclusion to the legislative session as a result of the new appropriations schedule that saw the budget completed at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
This year’s legislative session ended with many things I am happy about and some work left undone.
As you know, the teachers of our state will be receiving greater compensation for the very important work they do in educating our next generation of workers and business owners. While, over all, the results of the increased sales tax program will be positive, many of our smaller schools will be challenged with the 12 to 1 teacher-student ratio. For many schools this ratio will mean they will have teachers for whom they won’t receive increased state aid and will have to make up the difference in salaries from capital outlay. In contrast, the large schools such as Sioux Falls will receive funding for 70 more teachers than they have on staff today. This is one example of issues that will need to be addressed in future legislative sessions.
Many bills that I viewed as being socially regressive and prejudicial were either vetoed or defeated, but will be returning in different forms in future legislatures.
We took away a voice for the people by removing a step from the county zoning process, but provided prenatal care for low-income non-citizens to ensure that these babies will be born healthy.
We did not expand Medicaid, which was a disappointment. However, the federal government has agreed to changes in reimbursement for tribal members who receive medical treatment outside of IHS hospitals. I am hopeful that we will have a special session later this summer to expand Medicaid, which will provide health insurance to over 50,000 fellow South Dakotans. These individuals have medical insecurity because they receive their medical treatment in the emergency room, when earlier intervention could have prevented serious medical issues and saved thousands of dollars.
All in all, the 2016 session was a success, but as always there is still work to do. We need to address how we are going to increase support to community providers like our nursing homes and developmentally disabled service providers stressed with high staff turnover because of low salaries for very challenging work.
Additionally, we will need to continue to ensure that our adult and juvenile criminal reform is working, and that counties and communities that have an increased responsibility to provide treatment and support to individuals who have committed nonviolent crimes are adequately compensated.
It has been my great honor and pleasure to be the voice for the citizens of District 8 these past two years as your Senator. I have filed my papers to run for re-election and look forward to visiting with many of you in the next few months about issues important to District 8.

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