Legislative Report – Rep. Hoffman
The 88th Legislative Session has kicked off and we are out of the starting gate so to speak. As is customary very few bills were introduced the first week of session but with unlimited bill drop occurring this coming Friday at 5:00 PM, by weeks end the docket will be filled with many more for our scrutiny.
Governor Daugaard gave his State of the State Address this past week and he stressed being good stewards of our land and our taxpayers. In regards to the taxpayer he stressed going slow on spending as with the uncertainty of what our Federal Government does with the looming Federal budget crisis we could see major cuts in state spending coming from the Feds. Being a good steward of the land at times means protecting unique spots for all South Dakotan’s to enjoy. Blood Run State Park is exactly that kind of property we should appreciate forever. I have toured this unbelievable piece of prairie south east of Sioux Falls and it is a wild forest in the middle of farming country. Go there for a tour if you are ever in the vicinity of Blood Run State Park.
Chief Justice Gilbertson also gave his report to the Legislature concerning the recent criminal justice initiative which was implemented into bill form in the previous six months by the Criminal Justice Task Force. State Senator Russ Olson chaired this committee which came out with the Public Safety Improvement Act addressing our growing prison population and the costs associated with the high incarceration rates. For a look back we go to 1980 when our men’s prison population was around 600. Today that number stands at over 3600. In 1982 our women’s prison population was sitting at 32 while today it is over 450. Something must change as it costs us the taxpayer over $25,000 per prisoner per year to keep them locked up.
Chief Justice Gilbertson also addressed military veterans in the criminal justice system. 36% of the homeless are veterans, 76% of the homeless veterans suffer from alcohol, drug, or mental issues, and every day 18 veterans commit suicide. Thirty one states have created programs to treat these underlying issues rather than prosecution.
I Chair the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and sit on the Judiciary Committee. This past Thursday the Ag Committee heard presentations about the devastation caused by the Pine Beetle infestation in the Black Hills and the science involved with the in-situ-uranium mining near Edgemont. This week we have presentations by the SD Department of Ag and DENR and next week we will have the SD GF&P visit with us. We will have legislation coming before the Ag Committee concerning the Oil Study work we did this summer which will put South Dakota in line with North Dakota’s oil statutes making it a seamless move whenever the oil rigs decide to move south. We will also be placing bills on the table dealing with surface damage from oil drilling making it easier for those with problems to address them legally.
The session speeds up this week with many committees in full bill discussion. If there is ever an issue we are dealing with which is of interest to you please do call or email me your concerns.
District 23 Representative
34328 106th St.
Eureka, SD 57437