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Daugaard Vetoes Home-School Opportunity Scholarship, Tuition Assistance Rules, July Prefiling of Legislation

I’m hearing from a Legislative source that Governor Dennis Daugaard has given the Legislature five bills to work on on Veto Day Monday:

  • Senate Bill 94: opening the Opportunity Scholarship to more alternative-instruction students;
  • House Bill 1188: requiring all postsecondary tuition assistance programs to include goals, outcomes, performance measures, eligibility criteria, disbursement requirements and restrictions, and payback provisions;
  • House Bill 1268: limiting legislators to filing no more than ten bills per Session but allowing them prefile them earlier—July 1 in odd years, day after general election canvass in even years.

I’m also hearing the Governor has issued two style-and-form vetoes:

  • Senate Bill 76: directing Department of Tribal Relations to work with the Secretary of State in off-election years to help with “election grants, education, and satellite-voting center locations on Indian reservations”;
  • Senate Bill 90: modifying statutes on taxes, fees, and title transfer for mobile homes and manufactured homes.

I’ll be watching for the official notice and the Governor’s veto statements. Stay tuned, and get ready for votes in Pierre on Monday!

Update 12:52 CDT: Here’s the Governor’s veto statement on HB 1188:

I respectfully return to you House Bill 1188, with my VETO. House Bill 1188 is An Act to establish certain provisions regarding postsecondary tuition assistance programs.

House Bill 1188 attempts to require that certain criteria be included in any future legislation regarding tuition assistance programs. However, one legislature cannot bind the hands of a future legislature, and for this reason this bill has no practical effect. A future legislature could pass legislation that creates a postsecondary tuition assistance program and ignores the requirements of this bill.

Legislators can already request these evaluation criteria as a bill moves through the normal legislative process. If legislators find the criteria to be insufficient, they can defeat the bill. If legislators approve such a program, it can still be reevaluated each year through the appropriations process.

From 2011 to 2017, we worked together to repeal 129,746 words of unnecessary laws, and during this session we repealed still more. We should not add unnecessary words to our code, and for that reason I ask that you sustain my veto.

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Daugaard

The Governor rejects SB 94 for holding home-school students to less stringent standards than other students:

I respectfully return to you Senate Bill 94, with my VETO. Senate Bill 94 is an Act to establish certain provisions regarding the opportunity scholarship program.

The bill’s sponsors seek an alternate path for home-schooled students to receive the Opportunity Scholarship, outside the currently available mechanism. However, the bill holds home-schooled students to a lower standard than students who graduate from an accredited South Dakota public or private high school.

Today all students, including those who are home-schooled, are eligible to receive the Opportunity Scholarship by receiving a minimum ACT score of 28 or SAT score of 1250.

Another path to receiving the scholarship requires students to complete specific coursework and achieve a lower ACT score of 24. A required class offered by any accredited high school must meet minimum standards and the course materials for these classes may be reviewed at any time.

Under Senate Bill 94, classes completed by home-schooled students would not be subject to the same requirements because there is no accreditation requirement for home-school courses. To receive an Opportunity Scholarship, a student would only need to achieve the lower ACT score and produce a transcript of completed coursework issued by the parent or guardian. No one would have the ability to review course materials for these home-school classes as is the case for accredited schools.

I respect the right of parents to home-school their children. However, those students should not receive an unfair advantage over students who graduate from an accredited high school. Senate Bill 94 holds home-schooled students to a lower standard to receive the Opportunity Scholarship, and for that reason I ask that you sustain my veto.

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Daugaard


Governor Daugaard cleverly hoists HB 1268 on its own petard, saying it would actually make it harder to modify draft legislation based on citizen input and would clog the hopper with unnecessary bills. He also flags earlier prefiling as a temptation to D.C.-style grandstanding and a step toward an undesirable year-round legislative process. Hmmm… might we translate the latter objections as, Pierre belongs to the Governor year-round, so don’t you part-time legislators try intruding on my press cycle?

I respectfully return to you House Bill 1268, with my VETO. House Bill 1268 is An Act to provide for revised dates to prefile legislation.

This bill’s sponsors seek to give legislators more time to work on legislation, and to increase the opportunity for public input into proposed legislation. I do not believe this bill effectively achieves either purpose.

Nothing currently prevents a legislator, at any time, from working with Legislative Research Council staff to prepare draft legislation. A legislator is free to circulate a draft, post it on a website, talk about it in the news media, or share it with interested parties to seek input. Interim legislative committees routinely post draft legislation that has not been prefiled.

In fact, prefiling a bill inhibits the ability to subsequently react to public feedback. Once a bill is prefiled, the sponsor can no longer revise its text. The sponsor’s only recourse is to prefile yet another bill, thereby clogging the bill list with multiple drafts; or to wait until the legislative session to amend the bill, which undermines the goal of prefiling.

The only other reason I can see for this bill is to give a legislator the ability, throughout the year, to seek media attention by “filing a bill” to deal with any newsworthy topic. That is a grandstanding tactic that is all too common in Washington, DC, and those bills rarely even receive a committee hearing.

South Dakotans are proud that ours is a part-time, citizen legislature, and we should not move toward a year-round process for legislation. I ask that you sustain my veto.

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Daugaard