Saturday, July 20, 2019

Eagle Butte

Voices of our political leaders…

Oren Lesmeister


District 28A


This week we hit the ground running with a number of bills moving through committees. Soon, they will be seen on the floor for debate.

We had a great start with the Ag and Natural Resources Committee. Game, Fish and Parks gave their annual report and gave assurance they are working with Governor Noem to construct a fund for a bounty on coyotes. Within the report, Game, Fish and Parks outlined predator control.  Directed mainly towards predators affecting our state’s pheasant populations. Predator control is always on my radar with the danger they pose to our cattle during calving season. We also acted on two bills, HB1023 and HB1024. The first bill, HB1023, dealt with the transport and sale of velvet antlers and other big game parts. The second bill, HB1024, will be adding some species of sport fish to the list of authorized bait. These new fish must be caught naturally and within the specified legal limits.

The House Transport Committee was given an excellent and informative brief from the Department of Transport (DOT). I found interest with the wheel tax subject.  Regarding the Bridge Improvement Grant, the wheel tax is a means of earning points toward receiving funding from the state. This tax is implemented in 58 of 66 counties, putting 8 counties are at a disadvantage. The wheel tax remains in the county, and the grant is funded by licensing and fees collected, so it brings to question why the wheel tax is used for receiving grant money if the money does not go towards it. There are concerns to be had with the government shutdown. There are unknowns as to federal contribution to our state budget. For instance, we are seeing concern within DOT and a delay in letting projects out for bid as federal funding is not being distributed at this time. 

I have dropped a bill regarding fake meat. This bill will require that individuals and companies who produce meat substitutes to clearly labeled or advertised their product as a nonmeat product. For example, a tofu substitute for chicken cannot be labeled as “Chicken nuggets” but should be given an honest label and name. With the passing of the Federal 2018 Farm Bill, I am working on a Hemp Bill that will open South Dakota farmers to growing hemp for the industrial use. Hemp is found in many products and this market can open South Dakota to interstate and international trade in providing this crop to industries that use it.

Sgt. of Arms Jim Smith, whom has become a dear friend of mine and to other representative here on the house floor, recently experienced a great loss, his wife passed away. Jim is a courageous man, with a caring heart, and a spine of steel whom loves his wife so much he respected her wishes in not to leave his post and keep working. Many state and city staff attended the funeral to support him. And he did return the very next day to his duties per her request.