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  • Mike Weisgram

Legislative Wrap Up Week 9 – Session 2024




As I reflect on this year’s session, I want to not only list some of the legislative accomplishments of the 99th legislature but also give you an idea of the broad set of issues that were present in the 37-day session that was just completed. Of course, the most important goal of any legislative session is passing a structurally sound balanced budget that makes investments in people and programs that continue and enhance our way of life in South Dakota, and we (as legislators) are happy to say that goal has been accomplished. The following are some of the accomplishments of this year’s session.


Education Reforms: 1.) the new budget funds a 4% increase in spending for K12 and Technical Institutes, 2.) a new accountability program was created to ensure future increases to teacher pay, 3.) a $6 million dollar investment in a literacy education program providing professional development to teachers in the subject of literacy education on the science of reading, 4.) and the creation of a career and technical education instructor permit to certify qualified individuals to help fill teaching positions that are going unfilled because school districts are unable to hire traditional certified educators to fill certain teacher vacancies. 


Workforce Measures: 1.) the new budget provides the 3rd consecutive tuition freeze for University and Technical School students enhancing the chance that we can keep our high school graduates in state to pursue their education and related career(s) in South Dakota, 2.) a new measure expands the eligibility for professional licenses for former convicts, 3.) streamlining medical licenses for registered nurses, psychologists, social workers, and counselors to bolster our availability to these professionals through multi-state compacts, 4.) the new budget gives a 4% raise to state employees so that we can continue to attract and the retain a professional state workforce.


Public Safety: 1.) the new budget funds construction of a new medium-security Women’s Prison in Rapid City, 2.) the new budget begins funding for a new Men’s Prison to replace the aging state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, 3.) and a new measure that creates the statewide office of indigent legal services to reduce the burden to counties for providing legal services to citizens.

Public Health: 1.) the new budget funds a 4% increase to Medicaid providers (health care professionals and facilities enrolled to provide services for people who qualify), 2.) a measure to fund investments for nursing homes to purchase and install technology for telemedicine, 3.) and an additional $7 million in funding for nursing homes and community providers.


Agriculture: 1.) a measure to strengthen regulations restricting foreign-owned agriculture land, 2.) an appropriation to fund the construction of a multipurpose “Sheep Shed” at the South Dakota Fairgrounds in Huron, 3.) and several measures that enhanced landowner protections when linear projects (pipelines, energy transmission facilities, solar/wind energy facilities) are proposed to be constructed and easements are pursued. 


Miscellaneous: 1.) a new program to fund cybersecurity services and protections for counties and municipalities information technology assets, 2.) a business-friendly initiative for the regulation of autonomous vehicles for commercial use, 3.) and a measure to incentivize the sale of more ethanol through the creation of an E-15 fuel program for retailers.


In closing, each legislative session has topics that yield emotion from constituents and visitors and this year the most controversial issue revolved around the 12 bills that our House Commerce and Energy Committee heard regarding some kind of allowable management of pipelines and the products that are transmitted through them. Each piece of legislation we considered had details that took hours to study, discuss, and contemplate on as we weighed existing laws and recent court decisions.


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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