The 2015 Legislative Session is underway at the state capital building in Pierre, SD. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard kicked off the session with his State of the State Address on Tuesday of this week. His main area of mention, for at least the first 15-20 minutes, was the growing need for improvement in transportation. Transportation includes roads, highways, bridges and railroads.
In his speech, Daugaard mentioned thirty states adopting some kind of transportation funding measure within the last three years. He also mentioned South Dakota roads being the state’s “most valuable physical asset,” worth somewhere in the range of $14 billion.
Republican State Representative Mark Willadsen, along with most of the lawmakers in Pierre, agrees with Daugaard's push to improve South Dakota’s transportation quality. Here’s why it’s important for citizens of the state.
Another large focus of Governor Daugaard's speach was the workforce issue in South Dakota. He said the state must continue its efforts in keeping South Dakota’s youth in the state for the long-term.
Republican State Representative Roger Hunt agreed with the Governor in keeping South Dakota’s future (high school and college students) in the state. He said not only should students be given the opportunity to study what they want within South Dakota, but they should also be able to find a job in the state, once they complete their degree.
Hunt said workforce development is important for South Dakotans because it will help other factors of the state in chain-of-events fashion.
Democratic State Representative Ray Ring was a little more specific in his thoughts on the workforce issue in South Dakota. He said workforce in education, more specifically teachers, should be a priority for lawmakers.
Ring said he was disappointed, but not surprised, to hear Governor Daugaard leave the teacher shortage out of the workforce issue during the State of the State Address. He said it’s important for South Dakota to help teachers, which will in turn keep them in the state.
State Democrats also mentioned Medicaid Expansion, which Daugaard did NOT mention in his State of the State Address, as an area of priority for lawmakers during this year's session.
Democratic State Representative Julie Bartling said Medicaid Expansion makes sense for South Dakotans. She said she’s optimistic that something can get done soon.
Republican State Representative Herman Otten said he agrees with most of the Governor’s concerns from the speech. He said every year South Dakotans should care about actions taking place in Pierre, regardless if you’re a republican or a democrat.
The 2015 legislative session is 39 days long with some of the key dates being: Last day to introduce new bills (February 4), crossover day (February 25), last day for a bill or joint resolution to pass both houses (March 10), and the last day of the session (March 30).
What issues would you like to see resolved during this year's session? Do you agree with the politicians above?