Monday, February 2, 2015

Districts 22, 18 crackerbarrels focused on education

From the Huron Daily Plainsman:
District 22 constituents packed the City Commission room at City Hall Saturday morning for the first of three legislative coffees with legislators. Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, a member of the House Judiciary and Education committees, said those panels are dealing with some key legislation. “We’ve had some pretty intense bills in both of those committees,” she said. Gibson said she will consider what she comes to believe are the best funding options for taxpayers when a bill comes to the House floor.
She is joining other Democrats in condemning proposals by Republican leaders in Pierre to nearly double the signature requirement for an initiative or referendum to qualify for the ballot, and to change the minimum wage escalator clause in the initiative passed by voters last November. She said the GOP super majority in the Legislature has been pushing through bills that Democrats have referred to a vote and the public has overturned. By rejecting them, voters are telling legislators they don’t like those bills they passed, continuing a 100-year-old history of grassroots involvement in their government. “I think this is just wrong for South Dakota,” she said of the two proposals.
Gibson said she is introducing bills on legislative redistricting and to create an ethics commission. South Dakota is one of only seven states without such a commission. She is also offering constituent bills on the sex offender registry and domestic abuse.
It was a painful start for Gibson as she was preparing to take the oath of office for her fourth term in the House. As the session was beginning, she was sitting in a Pierre dentist’s chair. “When you start out with a root canal the first week, you know things are going to get better,” she joked. [Roger Larsen]
From the Yankton Press and Dakotan:
Sen. Bernie Hunhoff (D) said he feels that there has been progress made on education. The issue is that there is already a crisis in some districts. “A member of the board of education — one of the governor’s appointees — said there is a teacher crisis,” Sen. Hunhoff said. “I think more and more people are getting that message. They realize we have a teacher shortage, a workforce development problem. We have a hard time getting young people to go into the profession and a retention problem once we get them there. More and more legislators are realizing there is a real problem. We have to do something about it and there will be a dollar sign attached to it.” 
Sen. Hunhoff said that he feels the Legislature is making good progress to finding a solution for funding Medicare expansion in the state. “It is obviously a very big issue and there are a lot of concerns on how we pay for Medicare expansion,” he said. “Sadly, we are really hurting ourselves by missing three years of the free years. We are seeing studies that when you put $300-$400 million dollars into the economy it generates the state’s share. If the key to solving the issues is nailing down where we are going to find those dollars in 2021-2022 — which is eons away in legislative terms — then we will find the key because it is just too important to South Dakota.” [Shauna Marlette]

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