From Capitol Hill

House Report by Scott Moore

As we enter the final two weeks of legislation many spending bills will get debated as legislators look to finalize the budget.

The incarceration fund, financing our state prison updates, will be a big topic during our next two weeks. I believe our prisons need updating and I agree that the best way to fund these improvements is without borrowing construction cost and strapping future generations. As we move through the figures the question that continues to be asked by some is what the correct amount is to put in the incarceration fund. What is the actual cost? A study has been conducted on the state prison system including cost of updates needed. There needs to be a good plan, budget, spending cap and accountability. Since being in legislature, over budget and inflation are two common terms. Let’s be responsible and get the projects done correctly and within a set budget.

On February 21 we had Hoven, Ipswich, Mobridge, and Sunshine Bible government classes join us at the Capitol and they also were able to get a picture with Governor Noem and Lt. Governor Rhoden. Legislatures also received letters from Madison fourth graders several weeks ago and they too came for a visit on February 22. It is great to see educators and parents getting youth involved. The best voter is an informed voter. If you have a child or grandchild turning 18, please remind them to register to vote. We have had several bills relating to local elections along with changes to the State nominating process vs running in a primary. I don’t believe we need to change hoping to improve voter turnout, but we need to get people informed and involved — voting is a privilege.

The education bill HB 1048 is working its way through both chambers with continued negotiations. When we passed HB 1048 out of the house it was better than on arrival but still room for improvement. This bill has been named the accountability bill and I believe our school administrators and boards have been working towards making education and safety a top priority for our students.

Leadership has done a good job keeping bills organized and committees working through the process. I hear of stories about working into the early morning hours on the crossover day or the last day of legislation. I must believe most good decisions are made before 5:00 p.m.

I plan to run again to represent District 23 in the South Dakota House of Representatives. Thank you for your continued support.

House Report by James Wangsness

February 25, 2024

Legislative update Week 7

Two Weeks Left! Last week Wednesday was crossover day, often a daunting date on the legislative calendar. The deadline for bills to be passed out of the chamber of origin. This can be a very long day working through legislation, sometimes triggering the ceremonial covering of the clock. However, this year was an incredible exception! The house had three bills to consider and adjourned at 2:45 p.m. The senate a little more than an hour later. With around 500 bills to consider, this accomplishment is a reflection of hard work by our legislators in committees and great organization by our leadership team.

One of the bills I carried this year was HB 1231, an Act to revise provisions related to the foreign ownership of agricultural land or FOAL. After months of negotiations and revisions by many people, the administration and Ag groups we came up with the current bill. Currently the federal government only monitors acquisitions and landholdings through the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, (AFIDA). HB1231 requires persons who report under AFIDA to submit that report to the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources so that we may better identify foreign ownership and take action if necessary. The bill also gives the Attorney General’s Office more authority to investigate and take action on violations. This bill is a great step forward in protecting our greatest asset, the dirt. HB1231 passed out of the Senate on Friday and is on its way to the Governor for her signature.

I have also been working on pipeline bills, 10 so far this year with the last one to be heard in House Commerce on Monday, HB201. Along with HB1185 and HB1186, SB201 will provide for some of the strongest protections for landowners in the country while providing a pathway for the proposed project and a strong economic future for Agriculture in South Dakota.

I harvested the best corn and soybean crop in the history of my farm this year, where I have been actively working for 40 plus years, aside from when I was in college getting and Ag management and economics degree. Looking to the future and putting policies in place that support our number one industry is of utmost importance for our state. Having watched both corn and soybean prices drop by two plus dollars a bushel since harvest, it is very clear to me that working to build more demand and offer as much protection to land owners as possible is the prudent thing to do.

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