S.D. legislators now face at least 12 new bills, with 11 from governor, on session’s final day

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota lawmakers now face at least one dozen pieces of new legislation, all tied to the COVID-19 crisis, that need decisions Monday during the 2020 session’s final day, including 11 from the Republican governor and one from a Democratic senator.

All 12 cover substantial topics, including letting the governor’s economic development commissioner make up to $11 million of disaster loans to businesses.

Another draft added Sunday morning from Governor Kristi Noem proposes nearly $90 million of increases in federal spending within state government’s current budget that ends June 30.

The largest would direct nearly $56 million to her budget office for computer services and development.

The budget legislation would also affect seven other state departments: Social Services; Health; Labor and Regulation; Education; Veterans Affairs; Corrections; and Human Services.

The third additional bill came from Senator Reynold Nesiba of Sioux Falls. It would provide an additional potential exception for a person to cast an absentee ballot.

The dozen drafts will receive official House or Senate numbers after legislators convene at 11 a.m. CT Monday.

In a first, most lawmakers will participate from their communities, via Microsoft Teams software, rather than go to the Capitol in Pierre, because they fear spreading the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus.

The Senate and House proceedings will be broadcast live, through separate internet links at sd.net.

The Senate and the House will operate from rooms 413 and 414 in the Capitol north annex. The two traditional legislative chambers on the Capitol’s east and west wings don’t have necessary technology.

The decision to conduct the final day remotely was announced in a statement from the Legislative Research Council, the lawmakers’ non-partisan professional staff.

LRC director Jason Hancock said Sunday, “It is possible that additional legislator bill drafts could be posted..

Hancock added, “There are no plans to hold committee hearings or a committee of the whole at this time.”

Later Hancock said the House may perform certain functions as a committee of the whole. “Historically, the Legislature has not usually taken public testimony on new bills introduced on veto day, but I cannot comment right now on whether that will be the case tomorrow,” he said.

House Speaker Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls issued a statement Sunday to KELOLAND News about what lawmakers are telling South Dakota citizens about COVID-19.

Wrote Haugaard:

“The message the House of Representatives is sending is that of respect for the CDC guidelines as well as respect for the health concerns of individual legislators and their communities.

“There is also a message of continuing the work of governance amid a new health threat, even as we recognize that in a ‘typical flu season’ we do see an average of 46 South Dakotans die per year from viruses identified as ‘flu’.

“Since 1/1/20 and as of 3/21/20 in South Dakota there has already been 14,620 lab confirmed cases of flu with 537 hospitalized and 26 deaths.

“COVID-19 is a newly identified threat and has affected one of our own members, Rep. Bob Glanzer.

“Therefore, we pray for Rep. Glanzer and his family, even as we respond with caution while doing the legislative work of the people of South Dakota.”

Legislators also have four governor’s vetoes to consider Monday.

The governor said Friday that a special legislative session on budget matters likely would be called in June before the end of the state fiscal year.

Maggie Seidel, the governor’s policy director, said Sunday afternoon there could be big changes to this year’s budget and the coming budget during the special session.

“At the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know how much relief the federal stimulus bills will provide. The governor has signed all the budget bills passed by the Legislature with a caveat: We may need to come back in June and make drastic changes to both the current budget and next year’s fiscal year budget,” Seidel said.

The purpose of the proposed additional adjustments to the current budget is to give adequate authority for the federal funds that state government expects from the Phase II federal bill, according to Seidel. She said this doesn’t include the much larger Phase III bill, known as the CARES Act, that President Trump recently signed into law.

The state Bureau of Finance and Management’s summary of the proposed budget changes that lawmakers will consider Monday.:

$55,760,060 in a pool in BFM to be distributed as needed as federal stimulus money.

$27,880,030 for two calendar quarters of a 6.2% federal enhancement to the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP). The authority is added to the budgets for six departments: Social Services, Health, Education, Veterans Affairs, Corrections, and Human Services.

$1,000,000 in the Department of Health to provide Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) coverage to eligible individuals. 

$3,804,762 and 10 FTE in the Department of Labor & Regulation for unemployment insurance services.

$1,200,000 to the Department Human Services for congregate and home-delivered meals for older Americans.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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