Last week I attended the second Executive Board meeting in Pierre. During this meeting we made assignments to several Interim committees and task forces as well as the selection of committee chairs and vice chairs. Just to clarify, the Legal Resource Council (LRC), is directed between session, by a 15-member executive board, consisting of eight representatives and seven senators who were elected to the board by their peers.
I am proud to be one of the fifteen and honored to be assigned as Vice-chairman of the LCR Budget Committee. The e-Board handles legislative business during the interim, participates in hiring and oversight of the LRC staff and takes reports from and monitors the activities of various groups and committees like Government, Audit, GOAC and our SD Investment Council. The e-Board also approves and monitors the various legislative summer studies and issues memos throughout the interim. In effect, we represent the greater legislative body with regard to oversight and implementation of ongoing business.
Earlier, the Executive Board approved two interim summer committees: one on marijuana and the other on workforce housing. The Marijuana Study Group will look at all aspects of production, form and uses. This committee will cover both medical and adult-use recreational marijuana. The Work Force Housing committee will examine the need for development of affordable workforce housing for low to moderate income individuals and families throughout the state. Both study groups will be meeting throughout the summer months and report their findings to the Executive Board.
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We received an update from Jeff Mehlhaff, Chief Fiscal and Program Analyst, on the status of the newest federal stimulus pertaining to COVID-19 as it relates to the “American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).” This is a new $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus intended to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic including the public health and economic impacts. The ARPA funding components earmarked for South Dakota total $3.397 billion+ dollars with the potential for more.
Let’s take a look at an overview of this new stimulus package as it pertains to South Dakota:
• Fiscal Recovery Funds: $1.250 billion – $977.8 million in funding to the State based on unemployment (this figure could change) and $272.2 million in funding to Cities and Counties including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality. Respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers and to make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.
• Federal Non-State/Local Funding: $1,034 billion+ in funding includes stimulus checks to South Dakotans, the extension of PPP, EIDL, aide to restaurants and other food & dining shuttered venue establishments. This funding will be administrated directly by the SBA.
• Other Direct State and Local Funding: $996.5 million for grants and funding provided directly to the state agencies including DOE, GOED, DSS, DOH, BOR and other agencies.
• Capital Projects Funds: $115.7 million in funds to carry out capital projects directly enabling work, education, health monitoring in response to the public health emergency in respect to COVID-19. Guidance will be given on the allowed use(s) of capital projects funds from the Dept. of the Treasury.
• Medicaid Expansion Incentive to expand Medicaid to those at or below 138% of the federal poverty line.
Federal guidelines regarding the restrictions and use of funds are pending. It is my hope that the specific details will become clearer after the U.S. Treasury Department provides the guidance on allowed use(s) of funds by the Department of the Treasury.
With this new infusion of $3.397+ billion into our state and communities, there will be no shortage of requests, suggestions and lobbying for how to spend or not to spend the funds. With opportunity comes great responsibility. As your legislators, we must be wise and strategic in the allocation and spending of these funds in order to make the biggest impact for the citizens of South Dakota and our communities.