January 6, 2017 Capitol-ism

Special Events


South Dakota Chamber Of Commerce - Capitol-ism E-Newsletter

Next Week Starts New Legislative Session

Chamber Offers New Program for Governmental Affairs Staff People

They make new laws
They occasionally repeal old laws
They set the state’s budget
They are occasionally irksome
They work hard and make tough decisions

The 2017 Legislative Session is set to begin on Tuesday and will run for 38 legislative days.  The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be there all day every day throughout the session to be an advocate for keeping South Dakota’s business environment strong and investment worthy.

This next session will have four more republicans which means four fewer democrats than there were during the last two sessions.  Here is the partisan breakdown in the Senate and the House of Representatives

The 2017 Legislature

 Senate: 29 Republicans and 6 Democrats   

—  28 re-elected, including 10 crossing over from the House, 2 returning with previous service and 5 rookies

House: 60 Republicans and 10 Democrats

—  40 re-elected, including 1 crossing over from the Senate, 6 returning with previous experience and 24 rookies


—  68 re-elected, including 11 crossing over, 8 returning with previous experience and 29 rookies which is about the average number after each election

The following individuals have been selected for legislative leadership positions and as committee chairpersons.  Committees do the bulk of the work by evaluating each of the bills that are submitted for consideration.  In the South Dakota Legislature, every bill must be heard by a committee and have a final vote made in public.  About half of the bills will actually pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives and be signed by the Governor. 

 2017 Legislative Leadership and Committee Chairs

Legislative Leadership


President                                   Lt. Governor Matt Michels

President Pro Tempore             Senator Brock Greenfield, Clark

Majority Leader                         Senator R. Blake Curd, Sioux Falls

Assistant Majority Leader         Senator Ryan Maher, Isabel

Majority Whips                          Senator Bob Ewing, Spearfish

                                                  Senator Kris Langer, Dell Rapids

                                                  Senator Al Novstrup, Aberdeen

Minority Leader                         Senator Billie H. Sutton, Burke

Assistant Minority Leader         Senator Troy Heinert, Mission

Minority Whip                            Senator Jason E. Frerichs, Wilmot


Speaker of the House                Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, Sioux Falls

Speaker Pro Tempore                Rep. Don Haggar, Sioux Falls

Majority Leader                          Rep. Lee Qualm, Platte

Assistant Majority Leader          Rep. Kent Peterson, Salem

Majority Whips                           Rep. Arch Beal, Sioux Falls

                                                   Rep. Lynne A. DiSanto, Box Elder

                                                   Rep. Leslie H. Heinemann, Flandreau

                                                   Rep. Isaac Latterell, Tea

                                                   Rep. Larry Rhoden, Union Center

Minority Leader                          Rep. Spencer Hawley, Brookings

Assistant Minority Leader          Rep. Julie Bartling, Gregory

Minority Whips                           Rep. Karen Soli, Sioux Falls

                                                   Rep. Susan Wismer, Britton

Senate Committee Chairs

Ag & Natural Resources:      Sen. Gary Cammack, Union Center

Appropriations:                     Sen. Larry Tidemann, Brookings

Commerce & Energy:           Sen. Phil Jensen, Rapid City

Education:                            Sen. Jim Bolin, Canton

Government Operations & Audit:  Sen. Deb Peters, Hartford

Health & Human Services:   Sen. Deb Soholt, Sioux Falls

Judiciary:                              Sen. Lance Russell, Hot Springs

Legislative Procedure:          Sen. Brock Greenfield, Clark

Local Government:               Sen. Kris Langer, Dell Rapids

Retirement Laws:                 Sen. Jim White, Huron

State Affairs:                        Sen. Bob Ewing, Spearfish

Taxation:                              Sen. Jeff Monroe, Pierre

Transportation:                    Sen. Ernie Otten, Tea

 House Committee Chairs

Ag & Natural Resources:    Rep. Herman Otten, Lennox

Appropriations:                   Rep. Anderson, Hudson

Commerce & Energy:         Rep. Tim Rounds, Pierre

Education:                          Rep. Tim Johns, Lead

Government Operations & Audit:  Rep. Jean Hunhoff, Yankton

Health & Human Services: Rep. Wayne Steinhauer, Hartford

Judiciary:                            Rep. Mike Stevens, Yankton

Legislative Procedure:        Rep. Mark Mickelson, Sioux Falls

Local Government:             Rep. Kristin Conzet, Rapid City

Retirement Laws:               Rep. Craig Tieszen, Rapid City  

State Affairs:                      Rep. Larry Rhoden, Union Center

Taxation:                            Rep. Don Haggar, Sioux Falls

           Transportation:                  Rep. Mary Duvall, Pierre

What Issues Await Them?


The Governor told legislators last month that revenue collections are slower than predicted and the budget they will consider will have to be frugal.  He didn’t suggest the need for budget cuts but clearly said there would be very little for increases unless revenues recovered substantially.

The state has increased taxes in each of the previous two sessions; in 2015 to provide funds for roads, bridges and highways and in 2016 to increase teacher pay.  Both of these tax increases were supported by the Chamber.  With these tax hikes in mind, the Governor has made it clear he has no intention of seeking additional tax increases this session. 

Ballot Issues
Having survived the 2016 election with ten ballot measures that were placed before voters, many people have asked the Chamber’s leadership and legislators whether there might be some way to improve the process of putting things on the ballot.

This frustration is driven by the high number of ballot measures that were sponsored and funded by out-of-state groups that seem to be using South Dakota as part of a national strategy.  Political ads are cheap in South Dakota and groups can test ideas rather economically here.  Most aggravating to many business leaders is when a ballot measure clearly has a warning that it will likely face a challenge for being unconstitutional; only to have it pass and a court action filed forcing the Attorney General defend it at taxpayer expense.  

Look for bills that might seek to have signatures from various legislative districts instead of allowing signature gatherers to focus on the three largest cities in the state.

Property Rights and the Second Amendment

This session will undoubtedly see a return of the “guns n’ trunks” bill which would prohibit businesses from banning firearms on their property if those firearms were locked in a vehicle’s trunk.  The Chamber has opposed this concept over the past several sessions because it intrudes on basic property rights for businesses that choose to not have weapons on their work site.

Unemployment Insurance

There will be several bills that impact the administration of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system.  UI is the system that will offer partial wage replacement for people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.  It does not offer safe harbor for embezzlers but will help people who have been laid off or had their jobs eliminated.  The changes will institute a rate reduction when the UI Trust Fund has more than enough money to cover the worst recessions.  No need to hold onto more of the business community’s money than will be needed. 

There will be another attempt at lowering fees a minuscule amount and creating an equally minuscule fee to pay for the staff that runs the UI department.  These people have always been paid for by the Federal Government - never out of the State’s general fund.  This fee will partially replace reduced funding from the Federal Government for the UI staff.    

Attention Members with Governmental Affairs Staff or Act as Their Own Policy Advocate

The Chamber is seeking direct contact with as many member’s employees as possible who have public policy as part of their job responsibilities.  Whether part of a governmental affairs department or have policy included in their job responsibility, the goal is to keep you informed of fast moving issues and to hear from you about the needs and concerns of your business

A Governmental Affairs phone conference will be held each Wednesday at 4 pm (Central) and be scheduled for about an hour.  The group will use a conference call service that is contracted by the Chamber.

This group will discuss issues and actions of the legislative session the day before the Chamber’s weekly Board of Directors call on Thursdays. 

Contact VP of Program Services Mary Anne Boyd to sign up for notices and reminders of these calls.  Send your name, company name and email address.

Additional issues will become priorities after next Tuesday and the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry will keep you informed through regular issues of Capitol-ism. 

If there are others on your staff who would benefit from receiving this information, simply send their name and email address to contactus@sdchamber.biz with Capitol-ism in the subject line.

Thank you for your continued support.


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