During this session, there has been a silent assault on the ballot initiative and constitutional amendment process. SB 9 & 13 are another example of changes to make this process difficult for voters. These bills require fiscal notes to be attached to ballot measures. While understanding the potential cost of a change in law is important, the way in which the information is disseminated is equally important. These bills require the information to be included on the ballot. This requirement makes the ballot longer and more difficult for voters to navigate. Proponents of this measure know that the average voter will vote not to change a law or amend the constitution if the measure appears to be complicated. Another problem with this requirement is a fiscal note is an anticipated cost. As we learned with Marsy’s Law, many of the anticipated costs were never incurred.
Term limits have been part of this year’s issues and bills in Pierre. SB 80 & 89 set term limits for members of the Board of Regents and Board of Education. Full disclosure, I do not like term limits. Term limits set an artificial maximum not based in fact or merit. We have always had a form of term limits called elections. If we do not like our representation, we can elect someone else. Term limits give bureaucracy, lobbyists and other entities more power. These institutions do not answer to the people. When we limit a public servant’s service without cause, we cheat ours institutions of knowledge, experience and opportunity. These bills were brought because of one person that recently retired from one the boards. People felt that this individual had too much power and influence over the process. Regardless of the merits to this claim, we should not legislate due to one bad player. Should we throw out the Electoral College because we have Donald Trump as President? (Maybe that’s not the best example). These board positions are appointed by the Governor and must be voted on by the State Senate. If a person is doing a poor job, then it is the duty of the State Senate to not approve the appointment. If this person really had too much power and was abusing his position, it is the failure of the legislative body that continues to approve the appointment.
In Appropriations, we voted to approve the veteran’s cemetery located near Sioux Falls. The committee will appropriate $600,000 toward the application process. The bill also requires an endowment to be established and minimum $3m in the fund by 2023. This money will go to operational expenses. Once the project is completed, the $600,000 from the state will be refunded by the federal government and be deposited in the endowment. Thank you to all of the supporters that contacted your legislators and encouraged their support.
The Appropriations Committee has started the budget setting process. We break each department down into their individual units and set the budget. For example, in the Department of Revenue under audits, there is request for 5 auditors. The Appropriations Committee denied this request saving $327,293. As we continue this process, the committee will make similar reductions and additions to reflect our spending priorities. This year, there will be targeted increase and an inflationary increase for community based providers, an inflationary increase for education and an increase for state employees.
It will be important to hear from you during session. I would appreciate your input on any issue or concern. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.