Week 4 District 8 Legislature Report

By Gross

By Rep. Randy Gross

Thursday, Feb. 6, was the last day for final bill and joint resolution introduction. The next few weeks will be busy as several hundred bills work their way through committees. I encourage anyone having interest in a specific bill to read the bill, study the topic, identify the committee that will hear the bill and come and testify, if you have the opportunity. Bill information and schedules can be obtained at the state website https//sdlegislature.gov. It is important to promote your position at the committee level, as that is the “grass roots” legislative level. If you are unable to get to Pierre, contact legislators serving on the committee that will debate the bill. You can also testify via conference call by making call arrangements, with the committee chair, prior to the meeting.

In Appropriations committee, we hear from state agencies and departments. In addition to hearing their budget requests, we learn a great deal about our state and opportunities available to our citizens. For example, the South Dakota Department of Tourism offers free online hospitality training. While designed for our state’s tourism industry, the free training is a valuable tool for any business wishing to improve its customer service. Aren’t we all ambassadors for South Dakota! Take a look under “industry resources” at SDvisit.com. Did I mention it’s free?

Another opportunity, offered through our state Department of Education, is the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program. JAG is a state-based, national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who have serious barriers to graduation and/or employment. In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities. South Dakota currently has 200+ students in five school districts participating in the program, with a 100 percent graduation rate.  

A tool all citizens should also be aware of is your ability to report suspected fraud, noncompliance or abuse. If you suspect wrongdoing within state government, go to the Auditor General’s website (legislativeaudit.sd.gov) and click on the red flag on the lower left side. The site provides definitions and instructions for reporting.

This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting briefly in Pierre with several School Superintendents from the 8th District. These individuals are valuable leaders in our communities, linking generations and dealing with many issues which go far beyond traditional education. In addition, 8th District Legislators had the chance to ask and respond to questions from many of you at Saturday’s Cracker Barrel sessions in Flandreau, Madison and Howard. Thanks to all who took time to attend and discuss issues.

Please remember, this is your government and all citizens are welcome to visit their Capitol and testify on bills or simply observe the process. Information on the content and status of bills is available on the state website https://sdlegislature.gov. I can be contacted at Randy.Gross@sdlegislature.gov.

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