Senator Parsley’s week three legislative report

By Sen. Scott Parsley, Dist. 8
At the end of the third week, there have been a total of 299 bills introduced: 176 House bills and 123 Senate bills.
Work in the Senate continues at a rather slow pace. This past week the two bills that had the most floor debate were SB 28 and SB 60.
SB 28 is a bill requiring meningococcal (meningitis) immunization being added to the list of immunization required for school entry. This was a controversial bill. An amendment was offered that would have allowed parents to provide a statement that they are philosophically opposed to immunization, which would have exempted their child from all immunization if the parents were philosophically opposed. The amendment failed and the bill passed.
SB 60 was a bill that would have made Daylight Saving Time permanent in South Dakota. The debate on the bill was humorous but the bill died.
The first of seven bills recommended by the summer study on County Funding passed the Senate and is on its way to the House. SB 2 is a bill that alters the way the Alcohol Beverage Fund is distributed. Today the fund is split between the state and municipalities with 75 percent going to the state and 25 percent to the cities. The bill changes the distribution to 50 percent going to the state, 25 percent to the cities and 25 percent to the counties. After the debate, a question regarding whether the bill needed two-thirds vote to pass was debated. It was determined that the two-thirds was needed and the bill passed 28 to five.
We continue to wait for the school funding bills to be introduced. It is difficult to determine how the legislation will affect each school until we see the bills. In discussions with superintendents in the district, I do know that the plan will affect each school in a different way. The announcement this week that in order for the plan to offer an average teacher salary of $48,500 there would need to be 400 fewer teachers in the state is concerning to me. Our schools are still locally controlled and the decision about how many teachers are needed should be a local decision, not one forced by the state’s share of funding. The plan to allow schools to use more capital outlay dollars to fund general fund items is helpful especially if schools are going to need to make the types of staffing decisions the plan will require.
Hopefully, the bills dealing with funding our schools will be introduced this week, and we can begin the debate on the specifics of the bills.
Discussions continue on Medicaid expansion, and hopefully very soon we will have an answer regarding the plan moving forward from the federal interest. If the CMS, IHS and the Department of Health agree to South Dakota’s plan, the Appropriations committee will include spending authority in the General Appropriations bill giving the Governor authority to spend the federal dollars from expansion.
Finally, this week I had the opportunity to participate in a “poverty simulation.” We were given a limited amount of money and had to work our way through life without a car and all of the challenges low income people live with every day. While my experience was only a simulation, it did help me have a better understanding of how difficult it is for the poor to navigate the system. If you ever have a chance to participate in a “poverty simulation,” I would recommend it.
As always, I appreciate hearing from you. You can contact me at svpar@hotmail.com.

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