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January 07, 2018 10:05 PM

A Look At The 93rd Legislative Session

The state Capitol is getting ready to welcome legislators for the 93rd legislative session beginning on Tuesday. 

The session will officially start with Governor Dennis Daugaard's final State of the State address.

After that, lawmakers can get down to business.

Lawmakers are settling in for another legislative session. 

"I'm anxious to get back and get to work," said Rep. Sue Peterson. 

Last month, Gov. Dennis Duaguaard had his annual budget address where he talked about revenue projections for the upcoming year. 

"We also have a shortfall for fiscal year 18, which is the six months remaining until July of 18, that we're going to have to fund the shortfall. The Governor has made some recommendations on how we do that so we're going to be looking at that as well," said Peterson. 

"The way that the governor has proposed filling that $34 million dollar hole, really is mostly by taking it out of our rainy day fund," said Sen. Reynold Nesiba. 

In the governor's address he proposed to fill the gap by using one-time cash sources with funds from the reserves. 

"The rule is that we need to set 10 percent of our budget aside every year and we have about 10.5 percent so we can hit that extra half and use that to fill the gap," said Nesiba. 

Both lawmakers Peterson and Nesiba are on the appropriations committee and they each have their own ideas how funding should be looked at. 

"There are some things that I think we need to take a look at funding. Some things that I think haven't received proper funding over time," said Peterson. 

"I really think it's time for the state of South Dakota to take a step back and do a summer study on our tax system to see if it really is doing everything that we need it to do," said Nesiba. 

The state's constitution says the budget needs to be balanced before each end of session, so among other things the budget is always an on-going conversation. 

"Part of our responsibility is to make the numbers work but we also set policy based on what we spend and what we don't spend. So there's another aspect to it going above the numbers," said Peterson. 

Another big topic on the agenda is the non-meandered waters bill that was passed in a special session last June. More than two dozen bodies of water were closed because they overflowed onto private property.

"The sportsmens were not happy, the landowners were not happy," said Nesiba.

Since the water is on private property, landowners didn't want that open for recreational use. 

"It's hard to resolve because what we see in South Dakota is that the water is held in the public trust, it belongs to all of us collectively and when it overflows somebody's private land and the landowner is still paying taxes on that land they should have some say over how that gets used and that's really the central tension," said Nesiba. 

The bill passed in the special session was a compromise bill which allowed for those lakes to be open to the public again, but with landowners being able to open and close certain areas. The legislators put in a sunset clause which is up in June of this year. 

"I project what we're going to do is actually move the sunset out a couple of years and maybe make some minor changes to this," said Nesiba. 

Both of these lawmakers plan on bringing some proposed changes to the table and hope they can work together to get them done.

"We try to do what we think our constituents want us to do and try to work well with all the legislators there. So I hope that if there are issues that we disagree on that it's still a very congenial and civil environment," said Peterson. 

Legislators will have their hands full as they debate these topics and much more. 

You can read about the bills on the SD Legislature web site.
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