This week on the Senate floor, Senate Bill 70 - the Public Safety Improvement Act - passed off the floor and is headed for the house.
This is an effort to hold offenders more accountable for their actions, improve public safety, and create the capacity needed for the supervision of offenders with the community.
This measure has the potential to save taxpayers $166 million that would have been spent on building two new prisons to meet the growing number of prisoners in South Dakota.
We cannot rely on warehousing to solve our needs. We need to solve the problem while we continue to protect society.
One of the more emotional issues debated in this last week was in the House of Representatives.
House Bill 1087 - the School Sentinel Program - is a measure designed to help give schools additional tools to protect students from those who would do children harm.
It was one for the history books, as the lobbyist for the Associated School Boards conceded that it was an issue "too big for schools to decide."
As someone in the legislature who represents many families with children, I can personally tell you that working with schools to develop resources to protect our youth while they're in a learning environment is not a difficult decision.
The difficulty in the "HOW" we do it.
This measure provides that any school board may create, establish, and supervise the arming of school employees, hired security personnel, or volunteers in such manner as they may believe to best protect the school from those who would do children or staff harm.
We spend a lot of time in Pierre discussing education and the learning environment of our children. Keeping them safe in that environment is part of our responsibility as well. I look forward to debating this measure on the Senate floor should it makes its journey through the House.
Last week, we had reported on Senate Bills 3, 4 and 5, which are part of a package to bring better accountability and cost effectiveness to higher education to determine how South Dakota can better serve our students. All three measures passed the State Senate, and now go over to the House of Representatives for further action. These measures provide the reporting of the outcomes of license and certification exams and to determine certain job placements for graduates of all public postsecondary education institutions in the State of South Dakota, and keeps with Republican's general theme this session of spending our hard earned tax dollars smarter.
Senate Bill 83 passed the off the Senate Floor on Friday.
It was introduced by Senator Reed Holien of Watertown, which designates that the 30th day of March would be known as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. Many Vietnam Veterans came to the Capitol to testify in favor of the measure.
This working holiday will be dedicated to the remembrance and recognition of the service and sacrifice rendered by our nation's veterans of the Vietnam War. In the 1960s and 70s there were many instances where anti-war protesters treated our returning troops poorly, and veterans still feel the sting of that rejection.
This permanent recognition is a simple gesture, we as South Dakotans, can make to let them know we will always remember their defense of our country.
One topic that keeps coming up is the problem with the pine beetles In the Black Hills.
Republicans are discussing this very diligently in hopes that we can finally find a permanent solution to the problem. This includes proposed legislation to appropriate funds to suppress the pine beetles, and to establish a cost sharing program with counties in the State of South Dakota.
The budget proposed by the Governor suggested a one-time appropriation of $2 million to initiate the measure.
More closer to home are Senate Bills 16 and 21.
Both of these are proposals from the State Brand Board. Senate Bill 16 would allow the state brand board to establish a fee for local inspections of 100 head of livestock or less, not to exceed $25 per trip.
The board may charge and collect a fee for services pertaining to any local inspection of 100 head of livestock or less. The fee shall be in addition to the ownership inspection fee and the mileage fee, and shall be used to offset the costs of providing a local inspection.
Senate Bill 21, removes the inspection from horses and mules. The board claims this is an antiquated system and it is no longer needed. However, many people in our area still use this process and would like to see it continued.
In the coming week, the Senate will be taking up the review of House Bill 1061, a measure to expand our Captive Insurance market in South Dakota.
While the captive insurance market industry may not be well known by the general public, the passage of this act is a simple regulatory change to help South Dakota become more competitive in this market.
Like the change in credit card regulations under Governor Janklow brought thousands of jobs, and tens of millions in investment to South Dakota, this measure has the same kind of potential to benefit our state. With its passage, we would have the ability to lure more capital to our banks while creating opportunity for more high-paying jobs - at no expense to taxpayers.