Last Thursday was Crossover Day. It’s the day when all bills must be passed out of the chamber of origin and “crossed-over” to the other chamber. It’s always the longest day of session. We debated three dozen bills and were on the House floor till midnight.
I am grateful many of my bills remain alive. Last week I introduced my final bill that would void no-compete language in a healthcare provider’s employment contract. The bill was supported by doctors, nurses and organizations that support free enterprise. Expectedly, it was opposed by the large healthcare systems who flooded the House floor with lobbyists.
I introduced the bill because no-compete provider contracts are bad for rural communities. They require a doctor, nurse or other medical provider to leave a community after the provider parts ways with his or her employer.
I knew the bill would be a David versus Goliath battle, and I am grateful most of my colleagues supported the bill. It passed 41-27 and now heads to the Senate. Its future remains uncertain.
My “born-alive” bill, requiring a doctor to treat a baby who survives a botched abortion the same way a wanted baby is treated, was signed into law by the governor.
I believe bills to help save the life of children are the most important bills I can introduce or support. All the other rights we enjoy as South Dakotans and Americans depend first on the right to life.
All three of my education bills have now passed both chambers without a dissenting vote and wait for the governor’s signature. I am very grateful for the bipartisan support. The first bill extends in-state university tuition rates to active duty U.S. military personnel and their immediate family who are stationed anywhere in the world; the second bill allows active duty military personnel upon receiving an order to transfer to South Dakota to enroll their children in the virtual education system of the K-12 school district they will be moving to; and the third bill allows school districts the flexibility to use tax dollars received from wind towers in either their general obligation fund for ongoing expenses or in their capital outlay fund for one-time expenses.
All these bills required enormous behind-the-scenes planning and could not have been accomplished without the help of many stakeholders working together as a team.
We continue to deal with questions about how to allocate and/or save an unprecedented amount of one-time federal money. My priority is to use the money to invest in things that will pay dividends in the future for South Dakota.
One of these is a request for $20 million to design, construct and furnish the Dakota BioProducts Innovation Institute at the Research Park in Brookings. This would be a public-private partnership involving both SDSU and the School of Mines, working with private investors to find and develop new products from the crops and timber grown in South Dakota. The Institute would serve as the place to bring together the engineering and agronomic expertise of the two schools, the ingenuity of South Dakota students, and the vision of industry leaders to turn ideas into marketplace success stories.
Other one-time funding bills I supported this week that I believe are good investments in the future of South Dakota include:
• SB99 to construct a new facility on the State Fairgrounds, the Dakota Event Complex, to replace the old Beef Complex that burned down in an electrical fire in 2020.
• HB1153 to authorize the design and construction of a new dairy research and extension farm at SDSU.
• SB192 to fund a study for the future renovation and expansion of SDSU’s meat laboratory in the Animal Science Complex.
• SB192 to fund the construction and remodeling of SDSU’s Cottonwood Agricultural Field Station.
• HB1237 to fund repair of county and township roads and bridges.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. My goal continues to be to help make South Dakota an attractive place for families to work, live and play. That means quality education, strong agriculture and a good measure of freedom. I’ll never forget our debt to the men and women in uniform and those keeping us safe at home. I’d appreciate your feedback and advice throughout the session. Don’t ever hesitate to drop me a line at [email protected]