Senator Tieszen spoke on bills he was sponsoring. His primary bill is the criminal justice initiative, which focuses on drug and DUI courts, and trying to change behavior before people end up in prison. He described the bill as a compromise with other senators. Next was a bill on teen driving- adding restrictions on under-16 drivers, requiring more time in practice, fewer passengers, and no electronic devices. He supports a state-wide ban on texting while driving. He explained the Guns in Schools bill: the proposed bill gives local school boards the decision on their security measures. If a district decides to have employees armed, they would have to inform the local police, and could not require anyone to carry a gun.
Representative Dryden spoke about the $4 billion budget and pointed out that there are funds set aside for projects in the Black Hills, including $2 million to fight the pine beetles, and $1.3 million in the VA home,
Representative Conzet spoke on the Medicaid expansion; she backs the governor on not expanding it, and instead waiting to see how things work out nationally. She also supports the ban on texting while driving and continuing the 1.5 tourism tax.
Representative Russell added some facts on Criminal Justice Initiative: South Dakota does incarcerate more people than the surrounding states, but is still below average for the nation.
After the legislators had a chance to give opening remarks, the floor was opened up to questions.
The Chamber of Commerce voiced its support of the 1.5 percent tax on tourism and asked where senators stand on it (the bill has passed the house). All four senators support it.
Why does the Criminal Justice Initiative remove preliminary hearings from misdemeanors (section 52). Sen. Tieszen explained it as freeing up court resources, efficiency.
Why are there not many bills dealing with education? Rep. Sly said it is quiet because the Department of Education and executive haven't brought forward any measures. She said there is still a focus on student achievement and preparing for college. College prep doesn't start as a junior- statistics show that 3rd graders reading below grade level are less likely to graduate/go to college, and similarly with 8th grade math. Sen. Adelstein believes more money is needed than the 3 percent increase in education; he plans to include amendments transferring money from futures fund to education. He also wants to implement a temporary 1 cent sales tax for adding to education.
Alderman Jerry Wright asked legislators to support increasing the sales tax on liquor and using that money to pay communities for the impact caused by alcohol abuse. Legislators described the tax as a fundamental shift in tax policy that will require a lot of discussion before it's ready to be voted on. The idea was described as good, but ahead of its time.
A proponent of banning animal cruelty asked for sponsors for a bill. Senator Adelstein offered his support, though spoke that there was limited time to get the bill ready. Another legislator spoke on past bills that were used to restrict working animals and then used as a foothold to come down on ranchers, as explanation of why there was hesitation to support the bill.
Senator Adelstein was asked how the legislature will protect water from uranium mining. Adelstein had previously spoken with a representative from Powertech who said that the company would not damage the water. He felt the issue would need to be held off until more information could be gathered to support or oppose their claim. Representative Craig said he has received a lot of data from proponents of mining, but not much from opponents. Others supported this, saying there has been a lot of misinformation and that many who oppose it are making arguments based on emotional response, not on facts. The legislators were open to hearing from those knowledgeable on mining.