Legislative Report – Sen. Brown
The legislature completed its first week of session. We began the week with updates from both the Governor and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Both reflected a relatively positive outlook for the state this next year.
One of the major themes of both updates was the coordinated effort to reform the sentencing and rehabilitation efforts of our criminal justice system. Over the past summer there was a workgroup comprised of input from hundreds of stakeholders. Their task was to find a way to appropriately sentence our non-violent offenders. I stress non-violent.
If current estimates hold, the state would probably be forced to build at least one new prison in the next five years. That would cost tens of millions of dollars. Rather, by focusing our efforts now on initiatives like expanded drug and alcohol courts, research and other states have demonstrated that we could dramatically reduce prison populations, use our limited resources much more efficiently, and ultimately help rehabilitate offenders much more effectively.
I would expect this will be one of the biggest bills to watch this session. It was introduced as Senate Bill 70 (or SB70). If you are interested in tracking this, or any other bill, I would encourage you to use the legislature’s website. It contains a wealth of information and does a great job of providing timely updates to the status of all the bills. You can access the website at: http://legis.state.sd.us
At this point, most of the bills that have been introduced come from the executive branch. Many of them are corrections or efforts to reduce the number of laws on the books. Over this next week, we will see more individual bills from legislators and I would imagine some of the more controversial topics.
On the first day of the session, I was honored to be selected by the other senators as the President Pro Tempore of the senate. In this position, I will serve as the presiding officer of the senate in the absence of the Lt. Governor who typically runs the day-to-day sessions of the senate. I am also responsible for assigning the rest of the senators to their respective committees. In addition to those duties, I will assign the bills to the various committees and serve as one of the members of the leadership team.
As one of your voices in Pierre, I hope that you will contact me as these issues are debated throughout the session. You can reach me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at: (605) 769-0540, or by mail at: 316 S Potter ST, Gettysburg SD 57442.
District 23 Senator