District 28 Legislative Report

Don’t you just love a January thaw? The temperature at the ranch on Thursday was 53 degrees and I drove home from Pierre late that afternoon into one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen in a long time.

Betty Olson


Most of the snow has melted and now we wear overshoes because of the mud instead of the snow. The wind was so strong Friday and Saturday that it was hard to keep laundry on the clothesline, but it sure got dry fast!

This was the third week of session and the legislature has finally kicked into high gear. 170 more bills have been filed since last Friday, however total bill filings are down from historical averages. As of Friday morning, 299 bills have been filed compared to 348 bills filed by this time in 2015. Legislators have until February 2nd to file up to two more bills in LRC and there are still some more circulating. February 4th is the last day for introduction of individual bills and joint resolutions and February 5th is the last day for introduction of committee bills and joint resolutions.

Two girls from District 28 are serving as Senate pages this week and next week. They are Ruth Burkhalter from Prairie City and Alexandra Hansen from Camp Crook. The girls aren’t having any trouble finding something to do since legislative action has really picked up in Pierre.

These are some of the bills passed out of the Senate this week:

•SB 2 to revise the distribution of the revenue from the alcoholic beverage fund. State government lobbied against this because it gives 25 percent of all of the revenues deposited in the alcoholic beverage fund to the counties just like the 25 percent that municipalities get, leaving the state with only 50 percent instead of the 75 percent they got before.  The Senate vote was 28 for and 5 against.

•SB 20 revising provisions related to behavioral health.

•SB 21 defines a child advocacy center for the purpose of addressing child maltreatment.

•SB 22 adds emergency medical responders to the list of mandatory reporters.

•SB 27 revising personnel requirements for ambulance services and repealing the hardship exemption. The hardship exemption allows ambulance services to operate with one EMT and a driver on each ambulance run. Ambulance services without a hardship exemption are required to have two EMTs on each run. Staffing ambulance runs with one EMT is consistent with the requirements of most other states.

•SB 28 to require meningococcal immunization for school entry. I voted against this, not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I think it should be solely the parents’ decision and should not be dictated by the state. It passed on a 23 to10 vote.

•SB 57 redefine the term written agreement, relating to contracts between a debtor and creditor.

•HB 1002 eliminates certain reporting requirements for the county general fund.

My bill, SB 60 to set daylight savings time as the permanent year-round time for the state of South Dakota that was passed out of committee died on the Senate floor because two Senators were gone. The vote was 17 for and 16 against. 18 yes votes are needed to pass a bill and absent legislators are counted as no votes, so even though it had a majority of those present, a bill needs a majority of those elected to pass. At several events we attended over the weekend lots of people asked if we were going to get the bill passed, so Rep. Elizabeth May or Rep. Sam Marty, who was the House prime of SB 60, might sponsor a different version of it in the House. Stay tuned.

I’m the prime Senate sponsor of another bill that passed unanimously out of House State Affairs committee on Wednesday. Rep. Mike Verchio is the House prime sponsor of HB 1065 that designates the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota in Hill City as the official Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota.  I would add that there is no state money involved in this. Hill City built the museum and raised the money to pay for it. My father, Bryce White, served at a CCC camp in the Black Hills in the late 1930s before he joined the army in February of 1941 and he had some good stories to tell about the work they did.

To contact me, call the Senate Chamber at 773-3821, leave a message and I’ll try to return your call. Email me at sen.bettyolson@state.sd.us and the legislative FAX number is 773-6806. When you send a fax, address it to Sen. Betty Olson. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: legis.sd.gov/ Use the link to find legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact the legislators.