Session 2023 – Legislative Report Week #3
The tone this week was set on Monday with a long, determined, passionate, and stern discussion on the floor of the House of Representatives debating the Housing Infrastructure Funding Program that was passed (I supported it) and funded last year. This year’s Senate Bill 41 corrected a flaw in last year’s legislation (House Bill 1033) which caused confusion in how the program was to be administered vs. the intent of the legislation that created the program. Last summer, when it became apparent that an error had occurred, new legislation needed to be passed this year to provide direction for the agency who had authority to administer the program. It was evident that some “clean up” legislation needed to occur, if the program was to move forward.
Opponents of the program become emboldened and spoke against the “clean up” legislation and hence, the extended debate on the merits of the initiative itself. With so many new members to the House this session, we proponents of the Housing Infrastructure Program spent a fair amount of time and effort re-explaining the program to the new and existing members so they could fully understand what they were voting on. The opponents, I’m sure, were doing the same. When time neared to vote on SB 41, there were many proposed attempts (amendments) to change the bill and make it more acceptable to the opponents. I opposed each amendment because they fundamentally changed the program that we fought for. Fortunately, every amendment failed to garner a majority of support and we were set to vote on the original bill as proposed (SB 41). A positive vote meant that it needed a 2/3 majority to pass, as this legislation was appropriating money to the fund. Your legislature does not spend money without a 2/3 majority vote. I was so pleased that the vote was 54 – 16 in favor of the bill and hence setting a positive tone for the week. To me this program enhances the possibilities for new housing opportunities throughout the state and I am excited to see how this moves our cities and state forward.
I think it’s worth noting that most Representatives don’t think of each other as proponents or opponents. It’s just differences in our philosophies as we work together for a better South Dakota to live in and raise our families. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, I look forward to hearing from you soon.