Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Eagle Butte

Third week of the South Dakota Legislature

State Representative (District 28A) Oren Lesmeister

This week we have seen bills coming through the committee process that are mostly department bills with cleaned up language to procedure bills. They are brought every year with changes to become compliant with federal regulations.

In the Ag committee I moved to due pass HB 1033 which is the invasive aquatic species bill. The bill targets mainly zebra muscles. This small evasive species is causing real havoc right here in South Dakota. The lower dams along the Missouri River are now infested with these and it is scary what they can do to a huge water system such as ours. All departments are working on this huge problem trying not to allow them to spread any further. They are also trying to figure out how to control or get rid of them. At this time there is no way to do this anywhere in the U.S.

On Thursday we took up a bill that I have primed the past couple of years- legalizing industrial hemp in South Dakota. This year it comes to the legislature as a committee bill, which means that it will be primed by the committee chair and supported by the committee, not just one individual. Either way, my hope is to pass this as early as possible so we can move on and put our entire attention to other bills.

That being said, the Governor’s office found a way to come with a hog-house draft of an amendment that they sprung on us with less than 24 hours before the committee. It was not a bad amendment BUT I really hate the way that the Governor’s department once again, for the second year, tries to play a game of delay.

This comes after the Governor herself stated that she wanted this done as soon as possible. Wait and see, I guess, is the game she wants to play.

In transportation, we have had a few more bills come through, some of which were department Bills for clean-up language, while a couple of them were for airport/municipality and the way that funds and bonding are processed for them.

On the issue of hauling feed crops in baled form, we raised the height from 14’3” to 15’ so that people hauling on the interstate and some secondary roads can haul without getting an over-height permit.

Don’t worry, there is no height restriction on most highways in South Dakota, only where there are bridges and overpasses to take into consideration.

HB 1063 is a bill that will raise the legal age to 21 for those purchasing tobacco products. Really, at the end of the day, all we did was match up to federal law. This did have some good debate on the floor and passed the House, so now it is on to the Senate.

This year many of the debates are committee and on the floor have been about growing government and government overreach. But yet, we have a tremendous amount of bills this year that will take away a lot of local and personal control in our lives.

We cannot get a conversation started about nursing homes, health care providers or Medicare expansion. All of these are very important topics. Some will agree and then forget the conversation almost immediately while others just say there are more important things to take care of.

At times it gets a little frustrating, but you carry on and keep working toward the betterment of your district, South Dakota and the nation as a whole.

We are really going to see a lot of bills come through committee this next couple of weeks with the deadlines coming up.

One of the other bills I personally will be working on, is to help to control or eradicate feral hogs. This has become a huge problem all around us, from Texas to Nebraska, Canada, North Dakota, Montana, and east of us in bordering states. These hogs are so destructive to rural and suburban areas that we must deal with them. My goal is to have a plan in place on how to deal with this problem when it happens, and oh yes, it will happen here too. I want to be proactive more than reactive.

Thanks again for letting me have the honor to represent you.