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  • Mike Weisgram

Legislative Update – Session 2024 Week 6




The mantra this week was to work diligently to get ready for “crossover day.” Crossover day is a deadline for the last day for a bill (legislation) to pass out of the chamber (House or Senate) in which it was introduced and move forward for consideration in the opposite chamber. Crossover day this year is next Wednesday, February 21st so it was imperative that committees work through the bills assigned to them in preparation for next Wednesday.  


For me, the biggest challenge this week was to shepherd eleven bills through the House Commerce and Energy Committee. Many of them were very controversial with lengthy testimonies, many pertinent questions being asked, and a generous amount of time needed for committee members to deliberate and decide how they would vote. The most controversial was HB 1219 which we heard Monday morning (and into the evening). It dealt with the proposed carbon dioxide pipeline and whether or not the developer of the project would have eminent domain authority if the product being shipped through the pipeline (liquified carbon dioxide) was to be stored rather than being used in a traditional “public use” product or commodity. HB 1219 is only a one sentence bill but has significant meaning to the project developer and landowners whose land must be crossed on the pipeline route. The bill would basically remove eminent domain for the carbon pipeline if the commodity being shipped was to be stored. The bill hearing took one hour and twenty minutes with much emotion displayed, opinions conveyed, and facts being presented. Committee members voted 7-6 to defeat the bill but that decision was challenged by the bill sponsor, and he had enough support in the House to have it “smoked out” or reconsidered. Further action on this bill will happen on Tuesday as we must move it along to the next chamber by end of the workday Wednesday. It’s worth noting that a similar bill to this one was heard last year where it passed the House but failed in the Senate.  


Revenue projections arrived this week and we are just getting started on discussing them. “On going” revenue is spent on education, salaries for our state employees, and Medicaid health care providers. Whereas “one time” revenues are usually invested in infrastructure, facilities, and equipment. Our House Appropriations Committee is top notch with very intelligent and hardworking people. I am very impressed with how they go through every budget request and present it to those of us on policy committees. From what we have heard, it looks like revenue projections are slightly larger than earlier estimates but it’s too early to be detailed where spending will land. I am confident that the committee will yield a “cautiously conservative” budget that will continue to make investments in South Dakota’s future while living within its means. 


Another bill to watch next week is HB 1048 that deals with teacher pay. None of us are proud of the fact South Dakota teachers rank 49th in the country in compensation (salary). HB 1048 would set a statewide minimum teacher salary of $45,000, beginning July 1, 2026. That minimum standard would increase each year by a percentage equal to the annual increase in state education funding approved by the legislature and governor. The bill would also require schools to raise their average teacher compensation, including pay and benefits, by percentages equal to annual increases in state funding. I’m not on the House Education Committee but there is momentum for this and the full House will hear this proposal early next week. The biggest challenge (if this bill passes) is the schools who are experiencing declining student numbers 

as funding is tied to enrollment. Schools with a declining student population may not receive the full benefit of annual increases in state aid which will strain their budgets even more. The bill hearing will yield an interesting debate.


Thank you for your interest in these updates and if you have any thoughts or questions, please contact me at Mike.Weisgram@sdlegislature.gov


–mw

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