The 2024 legislative session is off to a fast start. As of today, there are 174 bills filed with many more to come. Last year there was a relatively small bill load due to the number of new members, but legislators are wasting no time this year getting their bills introduced. Anticipating a heavy workload, we combined the State of the Judiciary and State of the Tribes speech days and had two full committee days on Thursday and Friday.
On Monday I attended the Rally for Private Property Rights hosted by South Dakotans First. There was a strong showing despite the poor weather. As a legislator I stand with landowners who are seeking to preserve their private property rights. Eminent domain should never be used for private gain, and I look forward to addressing this issue during session.
My two-year-old son Edison made his mark on the Governor’s State of the State address. When the Governor was just starting her point on the importance of pro-life policy, Edison decided he was tired of waiting for mommy and wanted to come down on the floor and get me. Of course, Grandpa told him no and Eddie’s cries echoed in the balcony above the chamber. Governor Noem took the noise in stride and said it was great to hear a young child in the House. On Friday she wrote a column explaining why it is good to hear a young child crying in the capitol. You can read that column here: News - Freedom for Life: Why a Crying Baby is a Good Thing (sd.gov) That will definitely be something I print out and put in his baby book!
As far as bills go, we had a full day Friday in both House Education and Judiciary Committees. In Education HB1002 was intended to mandate that all 11th grade public school students take the ACT instead of the current Smarter Balance test. I had some concerns about the test being mandatory and parents not having any ability to choose a different test or opt out. But in the end the bill was tabled because the Department of Education will be working to implement wider ACT usage in the future.
HB1020 changes the way that schools are held accountable for suicide prevention training but does not change the training itself. It passed unanimously to the floor.
HB1021 is to merge the Administrators and Teachers Accountability Commissions. This bill was met with a tie vote. Since one member wasn’t there, it will be voted on again in our next meeting. For me, whatever arrangement allows more teachers to stay in the classroom versus serving on commissions is the winner.
For Judiciary, HB1004 was a yearly update to the code. HB1005 and 1006 are minor changes to the way the Rules Review Committee operates.
HB1024 requires a notification to be placed on an application for a medical marijuana card indicating that federal law does not allow marijuana users to possess firearms.
HB1036 requires dispensaries to show a similar warning. As these two bills were not making any substantive changes and simply informing the public as to current federal regulation, I decided to support them.
HB1025 is to create an additional penalty for exposing an officer to a dangerous substance such as fentanyl. I made a motion to amend the bill to reduce the penalty from a Class 2 Felony to a Class 3 Felony if the officer doesn’t die. There will already be an underlying offense for possessing the fentanyl, so I saw the additional penalty as a bit too strict. I’m uncertain whether this bill would have any actual impact on the actions of drug users, so I look forward to further debate on the topic when it comes to the floor.
On the floor, the only substantial bill that was voted on was HB1001 to repeal the sunset clause on the tax cut we passed last year. We can definitely afford to make the tax reduction permanent, and I will continue to support doing so. I’m sure it will be an interesting session trying to negotiate this change with the Senate once again. I am proud that the House stands largely united and is beginning the negotiation from a position of strength.
I hope that everyone stays safe and warm over this blizzard weekend.