Sen. Art Rusch

Art Rusch

The 2021 legislative session will start on Jan. 12 and run until March 11. The legislature plans to return on March 29 for a veto day on which the legislature could override any vetoes done by the governor. We are legally allowed to have 40 days each year but this proposal is for only 36 days as the leadership felt that we could finish up all necessary work in that time.

No one has any idea what this session will be like -- whether it will go on -- whether people will get sick and session will be postponed -- whether there will start to be enough people vaccinated that the COVID won't be a problem. My expectation is that there will be a lot fewer people around the capitol -- more people testifying on bills over the internet -- more people calling in to talk to legislative committees and fewer actually coming to Pierre to talk to them. I am certainly anticipating that there will be fewer lobbyists -- fewer receptions -- fewer meals furnished during the day and in the evenings. I am hoping that my fellow senators will be willing to wear face masks. I don't think that I want to talk to them if they are not.

In last week’s column I talked about revisions to the 2021 budget and mentioned that the governor had proposed a reversion of $12 million which had been appropriated for personal services at the Human Services Center but not spent. I have been informed that was erroneous. The Governor's Budget Summary Book says "Human Services Center Personal Services Savings (CRF) $ (12,331,832)" but I have been informed that is actually savings from the South Dakota Developmental Center at Redfield, not the South Dakota Human Services Center at Yankton.

The governor proposed emergency special appropriations totaling $186 million dollars in her budget address. Since the proposals are for emergency additions to the 2021 budget they would go into effect immediately.

• The single biggest area of her proposed special appropriations is to spend $100 million dollars for broadband expansion throughout the state.

• The governor is proposing to spend $21 million to pay off various bonds which are obligations of the technical colleges.

• She has proposed spending $12 million plus $7 million of other funds to build a $19 million livestock complex at the State Fairgrounds in Huron.

• The governor is asking for legislative authority to spend $5 million for grants to help meat processing plants expand and respond to pandemic disruptions and $5 million for maintenance of various state or locally owned dams around South Dakota including replacement of the Elm Lake Dam near Aberdeen.

• The governor has proposed allocating $4.1 million to begin implementing the commercial marijuana sales which was enacted by the voters in Constitutional Amendment A.

• She is proposing that the state spend $3.2 million to help build a recreation center at Ellsworth Air Force Base and $1.7 million dollars for the demolition of the Administration building on the former Star Academy in the Black Hills

• There are a number of other proposed expenditures, each of which is less than $1 million: the South Dakota Fire Suppression Fund, purchase of land adjacent to the Woman’s' Prison in Pierre, recruitment assistance for rural doctors, and demolition of buildings at the South Dakota Developmental Center in Redfield.

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