The Legislature’s Executive Board meets this afternoon in Pierre from 1:30 to 4:15 Central. Among the items of interest:
1. Rep. Mary Duvall (R-24/Pierre) would like the Legislative Research Council to prepare a new Issue Memorandum comparing our tax system to those in neighboring states. The LRC last prepared an Issue Memo comparing state tax systems in 1995.
Then as now, South Dakota had the lowest per capita tax burden in the region, while Minnesota had the highest.
2. The E-Board will pick members for its two interim study committees. Members keenly interested in studying the Extraordinary Cost Fund for Special Education are Reps. Ahlers, Anders, Bartels, Duvall, Glanzer, Greenfield, Holmes, May, Ring, Smith, Turbiville, Wiese, Willadsen, York, and Zikmund and Senators Bolin and Youngberg. Members keenly interested in studying Access to Mental Health Services are Reps. Chase, Bordeaux, Diedrich, Haugaard, Howard, Hunhoff, Jensen, Johns, Otten, Schoenfish, Steinhauer, and Wismer and Senators Ewing, Kennedy, Langer, Maher, Monroe, Nesiba, Soholt, Solano, and Stalzer.
Senator Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) explicitly stated he did not want to serve on either committee, likely because he’ll be too busy running the go-karts in Sioux Falls. Or maybe Al is just grouchy that the Executive Board chose these two topics instead of his two preferred topics—budget cuts and expanding state health insurance—and the top ranked choice, K-12 mental health and safety, that emerged from the survey of 68 legislators.
3. Steve Willard will present the South Dakota Broadcasters Association’s proposal that the Legislature hold committee hearings on Amendment W, Initiated Measure 24, and Initiated Measure 25. SDBA would like to use such Legislative hearings to produce 30- to 60-minute programs to broadcast on TV and radio to inform the public about these ballot measures.
I am all for our broadcasters offering more objective education on the ballot measures. I am all against letting the Legislature direct that education. The Legislature has done enough to shackle our initiative and referendum rights; to put them in charge of possibly the only statewide broadcast of debates on three of those initiatives (two of which are sponsored by the Legislature’s good friend and House Speaker G. Mark Mickelson) is another slap in the face at the popular democratic processes that serve as a check on our arrogant Legislature, which Willard acknowledges in his letter is viewed by “a significant portion of the public” as “a little less” “corrupt and dysfunctional” than Congress. If the SDBA wants good ballot measure programming, it should turn to the League of Women Voters, the Chiesman Center for Democracy, or even Dakota Free Press to convene sponsors, opponents, and experts for hearings completely independent of the Legislature.