Opinion

The legislative pace began to pick up during the second week.  Bills are beginning to work their way through committees. Most bills can be considered as either proactive or reactive. Proactive bills look to the future and propose a new or innovative idea for the benefit of the state. Reactive bills are written to modify or correct an existing situation, again for the betterment of the state. Both types of bills serve useful purposes.

Finding South Dakota’s “Next Big Thing” was a request from Governor Noem in her State of the State address last year. This year, a group of legislators are submitting a bill on behalf of South Dakota State University and the School of Mines for South Dakota’s next big thing. In this example of a proactive bill, the two universities are requesting funds to develop plans for a bioprocessing research and development facility. This collaborative effort would be a public-private partnership designed to bring together faculty from both schools, along with private industry, to develop new uses and new products from crops and timber. The effort would draw on the engineering, biology and agricultural expertise of the schools, combined with the ingenuity of South Dakota students, to work with industry partners to find and develop products that will add value to crops and timber and create jobs for South Dakota. 

If any District 8 resident has any big ideas that will help the future of South Dakota, please share your thoughts.

At the request of the South Dakota Sheriffs Association, initiated by Lake County Sheriff Walburg, I am leading a bill to modify/correct fees charged when a local sheriff serves legal papers. In 2016, the legislature modified most of these service fees. During training, conducted by Sheriff Walburg, it was noted that one fee was missed when the 2016 legislation was approved. My bill corrects the unintended omission and simplifies the sheriff’s legal responsibilities. This is an example of a reactive bill.

Many of the initial bills being heard early in the session are “agency bills” initiated by state departments or agencies (with a House or Senate sponsor) regarding items the agency believes need updating or clarifying. While most of these bills are fairly straight forward, the legislature still takes a close look at each one in committee before sending it on to the House or Senate with a recommendation.  These are additional examples of reactive bills.

Next week, the pace will pick up even more as numerous bills and resolutions will begin making their way to either the House or Senate for action. I will work to stay informed about actions impacting the 8th District while serving on the Appropriations Committee.

I have previously mentioned the wonderful people working and serving in Pierre. On Wednesday of last week, we took time to have a joint memorial service for past legislators who passed away during the last year. This was a very moving event honoring those who have provided service to our great state.

Please remember, this is your government and all citizens are welcome to visit the 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.

Week Two Legislative Update

By Rep. Marli Wiese

Bill proposals are beginning to fill up committee time this week.  We have heard from department heads about policy and budget requests.  Many bills filed initially deal with clean up language to make prior bills passed more consistent. So far, 81 bills have been introduced in the House and 69 in the Senate.   

With the small amount of time that we have outside of committees or floor sessions, we have been meeting as whip groups and as a caucus to discuss how to find funding for teachers, providers, and state employees. There is a lot of support among legislators to do what we can to help fund those groups.

The various tourism groups from all parts of the state were in Pierre last week to bring attention to what tourism contributes to our economy.  Tourism week culminated in the governor’s award banquet where several people and businesses were honored for service to South Dakota.

The education committee heard presentations from the Board of Regents and the Department of Education. Those entities provided valuable background information for the bills we will be seeing in the coming weeks. Health & Human Services committee heard presentations on opioid abuse and nursing home issues on finding and keeping employees.

I am impressed with the work we can accomplish in Pierre when we work together. The parties have differences, but that is understandable since we all come from different backgrounds and experiences. As we move forward through the session, we cannot allow divisiveness to work against us.    

Please contact me at marli.wiese@sdlegislature.gov.  I have heard from many constituents this week and try to answer as many e-mails as possible.  Thank you for your input on issues important to District 8.

Week number one of the 95th SD legislative session is complete. We heard from Governor Noem on Monday about the state of the State. It was gratifying to hear that her administration reports possible improved sales tax numbers in the coming weeks. Our caucus has been meeting to talk about budget priorities and will have more to report soon.  

Chief Justice Gilbertson spoke to the combined chambers for the last time, as he is retiring this year. He reported of the success of drug courts and encouraged further expansion of diversion programs in the state. A request was made for funding to provide for a statewide network of drug and alcohol courts to continue this success.  

Crow Creek chairman Lester Thompson gave the state of the tribes address to a joint session on Wednesday. He spoke of the lack of communication on last session’s SB 189 & 190 and hoped to rebuild the lines of communication between the state and the tribes. There is a serious known meth problem that he hopes to work to alleviate with help from the state.  

Legislators have been attending training sessions to learn to use the new electronic system.  The need for use of less paper in state government comes with a learning curve for some, and the staff has been very helpful in ironing out the problems that come with a new system.  

It was great to meet some 4-H members from Sanborn County this week, and I hope to meet with many more district eight constituents in the near future. Let us know when you will be visiting so we can arrange to meet with you.  

Thank you again for the privilege of serving as your representative. I need your input as we address concerns important to our district and the state of South Dakota.

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