Wiik: Starting the heavy lifting

Legislative report

Last week at the South Dakota Legislature, your Appropriations Committee began looking at some of the larger agencies that have control of a larger portion of the total budget. Most of the week was spent hearing from the Board of Regents and the six universities and two special schools that comprise the regental system in South Dakota.  

The governor recommended only slight adjustments for utility costs this year, but there are individual needs that we heard that are in the legislative idea bin now.

We also saw permitless carry pass the House, and Gov. Noem chose it as the first bill to sign. There is still a lot of rumbling about this bill on social media, and all I can say is this: South Dakota has been an “open carry” state for some time. Now you can concealed carry without a permit if you can lawfully acquire a handgun.

The week ahead will bring the Department of Health and the issue of correctional health before our committee.  

More than $30 million is spent each year on health care for prisoners in South Dakota.  

First of all, the obvious: You don’t usually end up in prison without a significant amount of bad decisions. Add the health care responsibilities of those filling our prisons, and the bills add up quickly.  

Secondly, there’s no federal match for Medicaid for prisoners like there is for Medicaid among the working poor, so South Dakota taxpayers must bear 100 percent of those costs.   

It’s all part of the illegal drug situation that Gov. Noem addressed in the budget and State of the State addresses, and it’s not going to go away quickly. 

There are many issues that don’t make the common news every day that we are addressing in Pierre. There are no shortages of hot button issues, but we are also working on the boring everyday business of operating the State of South Dakota, and we always look forward to your input.  

You can find all the bills at sdlegislature.gov. 

You can listen to committees and the House and Senate proceedings at sd.net and the easiest way to get a hold of me is via email at [email protected] 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the South Dakota Senate.