2006 Legislative Session Previews

As opposed to some of the bickering going on in the rest of the SD Blogosphere, I'm concentrating on the 2006 Legislative Session with a laser-like focus.

Or at least with "a used steak knife-like focus."

To me, that's where the action is. And that's where the things are going to occur which affect each of us more on a day to day basis. Congress deciding on a spending bill which will allocate a million dollars less to states? Yawn. But the state legislature passing a bill which raises the child seat requirements from age 3 to age 5? That's going to get me excited.

It's not that the first example doesn't matter. It's just that the second has more immediacy and more of a direct impact. If they say you must do it, or you can't do it, then "boom" the following July it's the law of the land.

What's in store this next session? The Rapid City journal has a good pair of articles today that are dealing with that very topic. Read about it from the lawmakers here, and from the standpoint of special interest groups here.

In a nutshell, what are a few of the big issues that the RCJ predicts?
  • Education Funding
  • Sex Offenders
  • GFP & Open Fields
  • Drunk Driving/Implied Consent
  • Uninsured drivers
  • Crime-victim notification
  • Eminent domain
What's our take on these issues? Both in session and in the elections this year?

Education Funding - SDEA will say that extra money should be put into teacher salaries. Legislators will want it to be put into the classroom & students. The State Aid Task Force has yet to make their report, and there's still the little matter of the state aid lawsuit that's going to be filed. We're dropping state spending from 54% to 50%? Well, what percentage is the right one?

Making sure your child has a good education is one of the "basic values" that people hold dear, so expect education to be the issue this session. It's an election year, so people will be paying more attention to it. No one wants to be on the receiving end of a mailing that says they "don't support education and here's the votes to prove it."

The end result? This will be a big legislative issue. This will probably be the year of education funding. And at the end of the day if history holds true again this year, SDEA will spend the lions' share of their PAC dollars on Democrats, most of whom will lose.

Sex Offenders - Possibly in less time than it takes to write this paragraph of this post, this package of bills will sail through the legislature. Sex offenders tend not to have a very strong lobby, and what legislator is going to want to stand up for the right of sex offenders to live near schools? (Imagine that being used as an issue in the fall elections). Issue this session? Nah. It will be a slam dunk.

GFP & Open Fields - This is just ugly. It pits law-and-order against private property rights. There is no winner on this issue.

Either you are a law-and-order candidate/legislator, or you are a personal rights candidate/legislator. Law-and-order candidates mainly live in the eastern part of the state. Personal rights candidates mainly live in the west. And that's how voters will look at it.

This issue might come up, and a compromise might be attempted. But I don't think it has hit a boiling point yet.

Drunk Driving/Implied Consent - Similar to the sex offenders, drunk drivers tend not to have a strong lobbying presence. But, the trial lawyer lobby who might not speak too loudly on the sex offender bills will probably fight this one a little harder. The argument for it is that you can't otherwise withhold evidence. But the argument against is that you do have a right against self-incrimination.

My prediction? A lot will depend whether or not it makes it out of committee.

Uninsured Drivers - DOA. This issue is attempted every couple of years. And it dies every couple of years. It's well intentioned, but it's as futile as jousting with windmills.

If the state could mandate responsibility we could solve most of society's ills. But we can't. We alredy have operating a vehicle without proof of financial responsibility as a crime. What are we going to do? Increase the penalties?

A few voters care a little on it. But it's off the radar as far as big issues. It will be introduced, discussed, and killed.

Crime-victim notification - This is a big issue? Slam dunk. Absent groans about paperwork, this should sail through.

Eminent domain - Probably the biggest slam dunk of the year. Woe be to any legislator foolish enough to vote no.

I think the big task force reports that are going to be coming in are going to make a splash, and I'm looking forward with interest to what the constitutional revision commission suggests for the 2006 ballot. That, and the task force to study abortion might end up with the biggest issues of all this legislative session.

That's my take. Anyone else have any thoughts on the big topics that they'll be facing?

Comments

Anonymous said…
I beg to differ with your characterization that the legislature will want to put more money into students and classrooms. There really isn't any evidence that the GOP wants to do anything substantial. I'd think with 6 kids in the system, you'd be hollering and screaming about that. It will sure alter your future substantially more than whether or not your 5 year old has to buckle his seat belt.

From your list, education is the only one I'd put on a priority at all. The rest of them have virtually no impact on ordinary South Dakotans.

When are you and your buddies in the privileged ruling class going to realize that South Dakota only taxes people and property, while we let corporations scramble across the border with their profits to support educational systems in places like Arkansas?

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