Most legislators work on legislative committees or issues year round. One of the committees that I am on is the Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC). GOAC met on May 23 and heard reports from the Department of Revenue about corrective actions for issues that arose in their 2018 audit, the Department of Social Services to discuss their corrective plans for issues that arose in their 2018 state audit, the Department of Tourism to discuss their performance and the Department of Education to discuss their performance.
Finally, the GOAC heard from the Department of Agriculture to discuss their pesticide regulatory program. The representatives from the Department of Agriculture didn’t have answers to many of the committee questions so they were asked to provide those answers. The DOA has provided written answers to some of those questions but I asked them for additional information which they have not yet provided.
Another of the committees that I am on is the Corrections Commission, which provides the Department of Corrections with input regarding the operation of all of the corrections facilities in South Dakota and the supervision of parolees. On June 4 I met in Yankton with the new Secretary of the Department of Corrections, Mike Leidholt, and some of his parole staff to discuss operations of the Corrections Department and their efforts to reduce recidivism.
The GOAC met again on June 11 and heard reports from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Much of the discussion had to do with a natural gas field in Harding County which has been shut down but not properly capped in accordance with state law. The state of South Dakota has commenced an $18 million lawsuit against the owners of the field to recover the penalties for not properly capping the wells but the consensus was that the lawsuit may not be productive because even if the state gets a judgement we will be unable to collect the money as the owner of the field is broke.
The GOAC also heard from the Department of Health to discuss their corrective plans for issues that were identified in their 2018 audit, the Department of Labor to discuss their educational plans to increase South Dakota’s workforce, the School for the Deaf to discuss the educational programs being offered in Sioux Falls and their sale of the School for the Deaf campus in Sioux Falls. GOAC also heard from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development about their performance to improve the economy of South Dakota.
On June 19 the Code Commission met and discussed the new software programming, “LawMaker,” that the Legislative Research Council is developing to enable them to draft new legislative bills more quickly and accurately during the legislative session. The committee also approved a new contract for the publication of South Dakota’s code of laws with Thomson Reuters, who has published our code for several years. The commission approved new prices in accordance with industry increases and approved the publication of two new volumes for next year. Generally we have approved re-publication of more than two volumes each year but that increases the yearly cost for those who are trying to keep their printed codes up to date.