Ray Ring

First an update on a couple House bills that I discussed in previous reports.

House Bill 1262, which would put new requirements on municipal utilities that annex land and take over some of the service area of a rural coop (REA), easily passed the House a couple weeks ago. I voted against it because I think it will make economic development more difficult for the municipalities. The Senate Commerce and Energy Committee tabled it this week. Tabled bills are rarely "taken from the table" so HB 1262 is probably dead for this year.

Senate Bill 147, another bill to "prohibit collective bargaining by certain employees of the Board of Regents," passed the House 47 – 19. I spoke and voted against SB 147, just as I had done with a very similar bill that began in the House (HB 1266). This will weaken faculty at the Regents' institutions and is one more reason for some good faculty to look for states more supportive of higher education. It will also make recruiting more difficult. Only a few states (mostly in the South) ban faculty collective bargaining, and those that do provide much greater support (financial and otherwise) than does South Dakota.

I wrote in one of my reports about two years ago that "I believe that USD, indeed all Regents’ institutions, have the potential for major improvements in quality and prestige regionally and nationally. . . . I pray our legislators and governors have the vision and provide the leadership to realize that potential. Note to future state leaders: that won’t happen without more resources." After this year's attacks on University faculty, I am much less optimistic now. Education takes another hit.

This year's "riot boosting" bill, HB 1117, which had already passed the House (I voted against it) also passed the Senate this week. It's similar to last year's bill that the ACLU challenged and the state settled and paid a substantial amount as part of the settlement. This year's bill is somewhat different, but some observers believe it will be challenged again and the state might be "on the hook" for another settlement.

SB 157 would make it much easier for someone to get a conditional use permit and would make it much harder for local residents to protect their property from risks associated with large endeavors like Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). In light of serious environmental concerns, I want citizens be able to protect themselves from risks of pollution, manure spills, odors, and other negative effects of these types of operations. It's a mistake to make permits too easy to get. Sometimes South Dakota can be too "open for business." The bill has already passed the Senate and will be on the House floor this week. I plan to vote against it. If it concerns you, please let legislators know.

Gov. Noem is advocating the last three last bills discussed above. I think all three will damage South Dakota's economy and sully the state's reputation across the country.

If you have other concerns, please contact me at rringsd@gmail.com, Ray.Ring@sdlegislature.gov, or 605-675-9379 (my cell). I can't respond to everyone, but I do give priority to residents of District 17 (Clay and Turner Counties).

High school students, here’s your chance to come to the State Capitol, write legislation, meet in committees where you hear public testimony from legislators and volunteers, then take part in a mock legislative session. YELL (Young Elected Legislative Leaders) weekend is April 17 - 18. There is no cost for travel, lodging, or food, and you meet students from across the state. For more information email youngelectedleaders@gmail.com, call (605) 271-5405, or go to https://sddp.org/yell/.

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