SD Executive Board announce topics for upcoming summer studies

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) – On the last day of this year’s legislative session, South Dakota lawmakers were already looking ahead to next year.

The Legislature’s Executive Board met Monday immediately after lawmakers adjourned the 2023 session to decide the topics lawmakers would be tasked with formally studying, along with the Legislative Research Council, in the interim months.

Lawmakers voted on 17 proposed interim studies and decided to hold studies on “two key items” of county governments and nursing homes.

The study on county governments includes finding ways to help fund county governments and looking for ways for the state to partner with county governments. Republican Rep. Roger Chase will chair it, with Republican Sen. Randy Deibert as vice-chair.

The study on nursing homes includes looking at developing a sustainable model for long-term care in the state. Republican Sen. Jean Hunhoff will be the chair, with Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt as vice chair.

Both topics will have specific definitions and directions voted on in an Executive Board meeting in April.

Republican Rep. Will Mortenson said all the proposed study topics were worthy of taking time to study. He added lawmakers don’t need a bill to hold meetings about a topic.

One topic that wasn’t selected for a staffed study was child care. But Mortenson, the House Republican leader, and his Senate counterpart, Casey Crabtree, plan workgroups on several childcare topics as well as foreign ownership of agricultural land and legal notices. Those topics won’t have LRC staff assigned to them.

“We had more good ideas than bandwidth for summer studies,” Mortenson told KELOLAND News. “I expect some work to be done on the following topics, in an informal way: child care, nuclear energy potential, alternate graduation requirements emphasizing CTE, public notices and official newspapers, and alternative certification of teachers. Last year, we saw bills or resolutions in all those areas.”

There was only one bill that involved the topic of child care during the legislative session and it was tabled. During the legislative session, Republican lawmakers said there are problems with child care in the state but the Legislature wasn’t sure of what its role should be.

In a meeting with lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Appropriations, officials with the Department of Social Services said the three targets to help child care are workforce, access and affordability. DSS also has $38 million in discretionary funding from the American Rescue Plan Act that must be spent by September 2024.