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  • Mike Weisgram

Legislative Update Week 7 – Session 2024




After the long three-day weekend, I was ready to get back to work. Seemingly, when I gear up to be productive and accomplished, I am motivated to get down to business. That being said, this has been the attitude of our leadership team all session. Speaker Bartels and Majority Leader Mortenson have encouraged an aggressive work agenda with efficiency in bill hearings and actions. They run a tight ship and it paid off as our most grueling day, Crossover Day, was just a regular day of manageable bill hearings and thoughtful final actions of remaining House bills. In contrast, my first two years of legislative service, we were here till after midnight on Crossover Day with pages of bills on our agenda and fatigue likely affecting decisions made on those bills. To conclude, my hat’s off to the Speaker and Majority Leader who set goals with good government as the priority and respectful communication to all House members and our LRC staff.


Last week I mentioned “ongoing” and “one-time” revenue estimates that were expected to come in slightly higher than earlier projections. What I didn’t mention, were my thoughts of where I’d like to see investments made and why. Leadership has asked us to start ranking some of our priorities in spending as we work towards a balanced budget of revenues and expenses. If possible, I would like to see us favor one more year of freezing tuition at South Dakota public universities and technical schools. With workforce still being the number one most challenging problem in our state, keeping universities and technical colleges affordable (in my opinion) is the most effective way to attract and retain more young people to our state. It’s unclear how much that would cost in ongoing funds, but I think it would be at least a five-million-dollar investment. I would like to think this investment would pay big dividends in expanding the opportunities for our kids and grandkids in the state, while attracting out-of-state high school graduates. We will see how the numbers come in and what the spending priorities of other 

legislators’ figure into the final budget.  


One of the hot topic issues this year is nearing a final decision in the Senate. HB 1099 is legislation that expands the scope of practice that Optometrists may offer. The profession is seeking legal approval for five new procedures, some of which include using lasers and injecting anesthetics to remove skin tags. Although there has been stiff opposition from the SD State Medical Association and the SD Academy of Ophthalmology, HB 1099 passed Wednesday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and I expect it to come up in front of the Senate body early next week.


Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 24. If you have any questions or thoughts, please email me at Mike.Weisgram@sdlegislature.gov.  


–mw

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