Heinemann’s March 12 Weekly Report

The final week of the the legislative session ended with little fanfare as we approved the final budget numbers with the passage of SB 178, an act to appropriate money for the ordinary expense of the legislative, judicial and executive departments of the state, the expenses of state institutions, interest on the public debt, and for common schools. I know it’s a mouthful, but the budget is really an educated guess as to what the future economy will look like, and then trying to identify proposed expenses, as I mentioned in a previous column.
We did agree to cut some programs to fund the 0.3 percent CPI to the schools that was required, and added some help with the ever increasing health insurance costs for state employees. There was a small amount added to the Department of Social Services budget, after some cuts, to provide for a small Medicaid increase of 0.3 percent to some select providers. All in all, we managed to balance the $1.6 billion budget, which in total is $9 million less than FY 17.
SB 176 gathered a lot of attention, as the Governor was concerned, after some reports of potential protest camps similar to what North Dakota had experienced with the Dakota Access pipeline, that our state would not be able to respond with the same resources due to the Keystone pipeline.
The issue that North Dakota had was, if a protester was arrested for trespassing, they would pay their fine and then be right back at the protest site again. That happened many times, as less than six percent of the protesters at the North Dakota site were from North Dakota. There were other issues as well, including people having  their private property vandalized, and truckers being forced off the public road. I supported the stripped down version, which did not include declaring a public safety zone with private property. It did restrict stopping traffic, as well as some other specifics. Let’s hope we don’t have to utilize it!
We debated the cannabidiol (CBD) bill again this year, SB 95. This particular version removed  CBD from the definition under marijuana, and added it to the list of Schedule 4 drugs. For the first time, I supported this idea, as CBD has no psychoactive properties, as it has no THC. The CBD extract is used to treat epilepsy, especially in children, and the trials to allow CBD products to be a prescribed, FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved drug are close to being completed. If approved by the FDA, I would support the legalization of this byproduct.
There were about 24 bills that were introduced to address the many issues that the IM 22 passage created. Those included campaign finance reform, initiated and constitutional ballot measure reform, and a host of other topics. A Government Accountability Board was created, as well as some other changes made to our present reporting system for campaigns. If you want to discuss any specific bill, I would be glad to privately, but there were too many to cover in this column.
Some of you have been following the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab proposal at SDSU. At issue was not whether to build it, but how to fund it. The ag groups were to come up with a fee or way of taxing their respective groups to pay for the bond payments over 25 years, amounting to about $3.3 million per year. With the total project being almost $59 million, it seemed a heavy lift when the ag sector has been experiencing a downward trend. A proposal was made to use the increased  sales tax dollars originally earmarked for ag land property tax relief from last years’  adjustment to the general school fund levy, which amounted to about 13 cents per acre of land. The ag groups agreed, and SB 172 authorized the ADRDL.
I truly enjoyed serving the citizens of District 8 this year. I hope you believe, whether we are on the same page or not, I will study the topic at hand and make an informed decision. I do have some issues that I will be working on for next session, so if you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me at Leslie.Heinemann@sdlegislature.gov

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