From SD Legislator Kevin Jensen

Posted January 23, 2018 at 6:41 pm

With the first 2 weeks of session behind us there were a number of interesting things to report on. Most weeks I will be giving you a snapshot of bills we heard in committee and on those that made it to the House floor, and those that have been filed and will be coming up. We will be seeing more bills this session than last year and there are a number of reasons for that. Last year we had a very large class of first term legislators and it takes a while to learn the system. Additionally this year is an election year and with the added factor that we will also have a new governor next year, bills favorable to the current administration’s policies may be filed.

Before I report on legislation I want to pass on some information that was presented to us by DENR in a joint session of Senate and House Ag and Natural Resources Committees. If you have not heard of the Emerald Ash Borer you may want to do a little research. The Ash Borer is an insect that was brought to the US from China in shipping materials and first found in Michigan. The infestation has spread this direction and has been reported in Iowa only 80 miles from District 16. While they could not estimate how long it will be before it gets here, they reported that it WILL get here at some point. All ash trees are susceptible and no ash tree survives once infested with the larvae. Trees can be treated to prevent the infestation but similar to the Pine Beetles it is expensive and must be treated annually as long as the insect is found in the area. The best advice they have currently is to plant new trees of a different variety in areas where there are now stands of ash. I have started a conversation with Game, Fish and Parks to analyze what percentage of trees are ash in our state parks and other areas under their control. I will report on any updates we hear.

Also in the Ag committee we heard HB1035 which did draw some interest from constituents. This bill repealed certain requirements for labeling of animal feed that may have included or come in contact with animal proteins. These regulations were put in place during the “mad cow” disease outbreak but are now covered under Federal Regulations so the rule is redundant. The labeling requirements did not change, we just do not need it in state law. I applaud departments for repealing laws and regulations that are no longer necessary.

HB1036 was a bill intended to modify the Agriculture lending mediation program for borrowers having financial difficulties. With as many ag producers as we have that are having financial difficulties the committee felt it was not a good time to revise mediation so it was moved the 41st day. For those who may not follow the process closely – there is no 41st legislative day so it is essentially a move that kills the bill.

The non-meandered water situation will be an ongoing issue through most if not all of this session. I have heard from many individuals in the district and I do appreciate your emails. It is a common complaint of legislators to receive “form” emails where you insert your name and send. We receive hundreds of them and seeing that they are all the same, it’s difficult to respond to all of them. If I could offer a suggestion it would be to tell us your opinion on any legislation in your own words. I try to answer all personally written emails. On Thursday the 18th, legislators were updated by GFP on the current status of the current legislation, how many bodies of water are closed or restricted, and what problems they have had. It is a work in progress and everyone is asking for patience as we work through various options. At this time the legislation is in the Senate, so there is not much to report on until final actions are taken in that house and the bill or bills cross over to the House.

Judiciary Committee has not seen too many bills yet but HB1019 did open up a conversation that we need to continue. The bill as presented intends to place creditors for payments due for higher education at the top of the list in the case of default or bankruptcy. The sponsor of the bill was asked how this fits with Federal bankruptcy law and since he was not an expert in that area, we deferred the bill to another day. We will hear it again.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact me at Kevin.Jensen@sdlegislature.gov

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