Editor's note: As part of the coverage of the 2013 legislative session, the American News will provide, on most days, a list of 10 pieces of information helpful to understanding what is — and sometimes isn’t — happening at the state Capitol during the session’s three-month run.
Q. How busy will legislators be today after missing work Monday because of the no-travel conditions Sunday and part of Monday?
A. Technically, no busier than they would have been Monday. But bills that were scheduled for today now will be pushed back to Wednesday. Overall, the work is starting to back up, as it always does midway through the session. Lawmakers will work Friday, which was supposed to be a day off.
Q. What will happen on state aid to K-12 school districts this year?
A. There is a major hearing Wednesday on various school-aid proposals, including Senate Bill 191 from Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center. It seeks to increase the total state aid and local taxes for general education support per student to $4,626.65 for the 2013-14 school year from the present $4,490.92.
Q. What was the governor’s recommendation for a state aid increase?
A. Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed the 3 percent maximum allowed under state law, for a total of $4,625.65. That would be an increase of $134.73 per student over the current base. Neither the Daugaard proposal nor the Rhoden bill reflects the $3.9 million one-time increase given by the Legislature last year for the current 2012-13 school year.
Q. Is $1 more per student the real point of the Rhoden bill?
A. This would appear to be the vehicle for providing an even larger increase through an amendment at a later time, after the Legislature has a better feel for revenue projections. There are bills by other legislators that attempt to do this in various ways, but none has the sheer horsepower on 191.
Q. Does a larger amount have a chance?
A. Rhoden has big numbers, as in legislators, and from both parties, on his side. Of the 34 other senators, he has 29 as co-sponsors. If they hold together, that would be more than a two-thirds majority needed to override a governor’s veto. In the House, where the lead sponsor is Rep. Dean Wink, R-Howes, there are 49 other co-sponsors, just a shade more than the two-thirds to override a veto. Time will tell whether it’s important that one name missing among the co-sponsors is one of the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Appropriations: Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, while the other, Rep. Fred Romkema, R-Spearfish, is a co-sponsor.
Q. What’s on tap today?
A. The Senate has 18 Senate bills and two proposed constitutional amendments on its debate calendar for this afternoon, plus seven House bills the senators likely will defer to another day. The House of Representatives has five House bills on its debate calendar, including the proposal from Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, to reinstitute rustling as a crime, plus a list of Senate bills now nine deep.
Q. Will there be a constitutional amendment that would make it harder for voters to raise state taxes?
A. The new generation of the old No New Taxes coalition rides again. Senators could be voting as early as this afternoon on the proposal, SJR 2, from Republican Corey Brown of Gettysburg. It would require a two-thirds majority of voters for a new tax or a tax increase to be passed at the ballot box.
Q. What are the next steps?
A. This came out of the Senate Tax Committee on a 6-1 vote with only Democrat Chuck Welke of Warner opposed. If a majority of the full Senate approves the resolution, the House of Representatives would decide next whether to put it on the 2014 statewide ballot. From there, it would be up to a simple majority of voters to decide.
Q. What is the reason for Brown’s resolution?
A. Two reasons, actually. Voters in 1996 approved a two-thirds requirement for tax increases by the Legislature but the language didn’t apply the two-thirds majority to voters. Second reason was the ballot measure on the 2012 ballot that, had it passed, would have imposed an additional 1 percent of state sales tax.
Q. What was the original No New Taxes coalition?
A. Lobbyists for alcohol, tobacco and Main Street businesses comprised the group, such as Jerry Wheeler (now Shawn Lyons) of the South Dakota Retailers and the late Bill Dougherty (now son Tim Dougherty of the Licensed Beverage Dealers) and the late Jeremiah Murphy. Another of the originals was Ron Olinger, now semi-retired.