South Dakota Legislature To Tackle Big Issues For 2015
Legislature to discuss SD infrastructure, Medicaid program, and teacher pay.
In just a few days, the pomp and circumstance of Saturday’s Inauguration Day in Pierre will be gone, and South Dakota lawmakers will begin the long and difficult process of sorting through the state’s biggest issues.
“In the end, the 38-39 days’ worth of session go very fast,” said Representative Jason Frerichs (D) of District 1.
In his seventh year in the legislature, Representative Frerichs is no stranger to how difficult the session process can be.
“There’s been some good ideas put on the table, but we’re going to have to continue to work through those,” said Representative Frerichs.
The ideas Frerich’s is referring to cover a wide range of issues, one being the improvement of South Dakota’s infrastructure and transportation.
“We all got here on roads, so we’ve got to make certain that we create good infrastructure and maintain good infrastructure in South Dakota,” said Representative Alex Jensen (R) of District 12.
Representative Jensen says the proposed transportation bill, Senate Bill 1, will focus on county and local taxes to fund roads in South Dakota.
Representative Mark Mickelson (R) of District 13 said, “We’ll work something out. Hopefully be fair to all sides and something that makes an appropriate investment for the future in the next generation.”
While many Republican lawmakers want to work on the state’s infrastructure needs, many Democrats say they will work on increasing teacher pay, and expanding the state’s Medicaid program.
“Find a way to come together on it so that we can make sure that those people who need health coverage have it,” said Representative Paula Hawks (D) of District 9.
Along with expanding South Dakota’s Medicaid program, Representative Hawks hopes to use her voice to help secure the state’s educational system.
Representative Hawks said, “I’m hoping that we can talk a little bit more creatively about making the education profession in the state of South Dakota more attractive so that we can attract and keep great teachers here in our state.”
Senator Tim Rave (R) of District 25 has been in the legislature for 13 sessions and says increased teacher pay is always a popular topic of conversation, as it will be again this year.
“With the limited revenues we actually have this year the numbers aren’t great of ongoing extra money. I think the governor had a good start with his two percent in the budget and we’ll just kind of see where that goes,” said Senator Rave.
While this session is going to be filled with long days for South Dakota lawmakers, Representative Mickelson say the only way to overcome the state’s challenges is for the legislature to work together.
South Dakota state lawmakers will be in Pierre on Tuesday to begin the 2015 legislative session.