Next Week Starts New Legislative Session
Chamber Offers New Program for Governmental Affairs Staff People
They make new laws
They occasionally repeal old laws
They set the state’s budget
They are occasionally irksome
They work hard and make tough decisions
The 2017 Legislative Session is set to begin on Tuesday and will run for 38 legislative days. The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be there all day every day throughout the session to be an advocate for keeping South Dakota’s business environment strong and investment worthy.
This next session will have four more republicans which means four fewer democrats than there were during the last two sessions. Here is the partisan breakdown in the Senate and the House of Representatives
The 2017 Legislature
Senate: 29 Republicans and 6 Democrats
28 re-elected, including 10 crossing over from the House, 2 returning with previous service and 5 rookies
House: 60 Republicans and 10 Democrats
40 re-elected, including 1 crossing over from the Senate, 6 returning with previous experience and 24 rookies
68 re-elected, including 11 crossing over, 8 returning with previous experience and 29 rookies which is about the average number after each election
The following individuals have been selected for legislative leadership positions and as committee chairpersons. Committees do the bulk of the work by evaluating each of the bills that are submitted for consideration. In the South Dakota Legislature, every bill must be heard by a committee and have a final vote made in public. About half of the bills will actually pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives and be signed by the Governor.
2017 Legislative Leadership and Committee Chairs
President Lt. Governor Matt Michels
President Pro Tempore Senator Brock Greenfield, Clark
Majority Leader Senator R. Blake Curd, Sioux Falls
Assistant Majority Leader Senator Ryan Maher, Isabel
Majority Whips Senator Bob Ewing, Spearfish
Senator Kris Langer, Dell Rapids
Senator Al Novstrup, Aberdeen
Minority Leader Senator Billie H. Sutton, Burke
Assistant Minority Leader Senator Troy Heinert, Mission
Minority Whip Senator Jason E. Frerichs, Wilmot
Speaker of the House Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, Sioux Falls
Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Don Haggar, Sioux Falls
Majority Leader Rep. Lee Qualm, Platte
Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Kent Peterson, Salem
Majority Whips Rep. Arch Beal, Sioux Falls
Rep. Lynne A. DiSanto, Box Elder
Rep. Leslie H. Heinemann, Flandreau
Rep. Isaac Latterell, Tea
Rep. Larry Rhoden, Union Center
Minority Leader Rep. Spencer Hawley, Brookings
Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Julie Bartling, Gregory
Minority Whips Rep. Karen Soli, Sioux Falls
Rep. Susan Wismer, Britton
Senate Committee Chairs
Ag & Natural Resources: Sen. Gary Cammack, Union Center
Appropriations: Sen. Larry Tidemann, Brookings
Commerce & Energy: Sen. Phil Jensen, Rapid City
Education: Sen. Jim Bolin, Canton
Government Operations & Audit: Sen. Deb Peters, Hartford
Health & Human Services: Sen. Deb Soholt, Sioux Falls
Judiciary: Sen. Lance Russell, Hot Springs
Legislative Procedure: Sen. Brock Greenfield, Clark
Local Government: Sen. Kris Langer, Dell Rapids
Retirement Laws: Sen. Jim White, Huron
State Affairs: Sen. Bob Ewing, Spearfish
Taxation: Sen. Jeff Monroe, Pierre
Transportation: Sen. Ernie Otten, Tea
House Committee Chairs
Ag & Natural Resources: Rep. Herman Otten, Lennox
Appropriations: Rep. Anderson, Hudson
Commerce & Energy: Rep. Tim Rounds, Pierre
Education: Rep. Tim Johns, Lead
Government Operations & Audit: Rep. Jean Hunhoff, Yankton
Health & Human Services: Rep. Wayne Steinhauer, Hartford
Judiciary: Rep. Mike Stevens, Yankton
Legislative Procedure: Rep. Mark Mickelson, Sioux Falls
Local Government: Rep. Kristin Conzet, Rapid City
Retirement Laws: Rep. Craig Tieszen, Rapid City
State Affairs: Rep. Larry Rhoden, Union Center
Taxation: Rep. Don Haggar, Sioux Falls
Transportation: Rep. Mary Duvall, Pierre
What Issues Await Them?
The Governor told legislators last month that revenue collections are slower than predicted and the budget they will consider will have to be frugal. He didn’t suggest the need for budget cuts but clearly said there would be very little for increases unless revenues recovered substantially.
The state has increased taxes in each of the previous two sessions; in 2015 to provide funds for roads, bridges and highways and in 2016 to increase teacher pay. Both of these tax increases were supported by the Chamber. With these tax hikes in mind, the Governor has made it clear he has no intention of seeking additional tax increases this session.
Having survived the 2016 election with ten ballot measures that were placed before voters, many people have asked the Chamber’s leadership and legislators whether there might be some way to improve the process of putting things on the ballot.
This frustration is driven by the high number of ballot measures that were sponsored and funded by out-of-state groups that seem to be using South Dakota as part of a national strategy. Political ads are cheap in South Dakota and groups can test ideas rather economically here. Most aggravating to many business leaders is when a ballot measure clearly has a warning that it will likely face a challenge for being unconstitutional; only to have it pass and a court action filed forcing the Attorney General defend it at taxpayer expense.
Look for bills that might seek to have signatures from various legislative districts instead of allowing signature gatherers to focus on the three largest cities in the state.
Property Rights and the Second Amendment
This session will undoubtedly see a return of the “guns n’ trunks” bill which would prohibit businesses from banning firearms on their property if those firearms were locked in a vehicle’s trunk. The Chamber has opposed this concept over the past several sessions because it intrudes on basic property rights for businesses that choose to not have weapons on their work site.
There will be several bills that impact the administration of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system. UI is the system that will offer partial wage replacement for people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It does not offer safe harbor for embezzlers but will help people who have been laid off or had their jobs eliminated. The changes will institute a rate reduction when the UI Trust Fund has more than enough money to cover the worst recessions. No need to hold onto more of the business community’s money than will be needed.
There will be another attempt at lowering fees a minuscule amount and creating an equally minuscule fee to pay for the staff that runs the UI department. These people have always been paid for by the Federal Government - never out of the State’s general fund. This fee will partially replace reduced funding from the Federal Government for the UI staff.
Attention Members with Governmental Affairs Staff or Act as Their Own Policy Advocate
A Governmental Affairs phone conference will be held each Wednesday at 4 pm (Central) and be scheduled for about an hour. The group will use a conference call service that is contracted by the Chamber.
The Chamber is seeking direct contact with as many member’s employees as possible who have public policy as part of their job responsibilities. Whether part of a governmental affairs department or have policy included in their job responsibility, the goal is to keep you informed of fast moving issues and to hear from you about the needs and concerns of your business
This group will discuss issues and actions of the legislative session the day before the Chamber’s weekly Board of Directors call on Thursdays.
Contact VP of Program Services Mary Anne Boyd to sign up for notices and reminders of these calls. Send your name, company name and email address.
Additional issues will become priorities after next Tuesday and the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry will keep you informed through regular issues of Capitol-ism.
If there are others on your staff who would benefit from receiving this information, simply send their name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org with Capitol-ism in the subject line.
Thank you for your continued support.