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Christian Smith-Socaris on June 4, 2009 - 11:36am
This year the budget was the major item that lawmakers dealt with, but they also managed to pass a public smoking ban and series of mortgage reforms, among other progressive legislation.
Budget and Stimulus: The state passed a nearly $4 billion budget that avoided significant cuts by filling shortfalls with stimulus funds, including $71 million for FY2010. Overall the state will spend $300 million in stimulus dollars in 2010, approximately half of the states total allotment. One tax increase of note is the expansion of the sales tax to telecommunication services [H 1010].
A Bill mandating a state spending transparency website that would track all payments and wages of private contractors was vetoed by the governor. The governor has at the same time started his own transparency website with less information than the bill would have required.
Smoking Ban: South Dakota will join the 24 other states that have banned or have committed to banning smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants [H 1240]. As the evidence of second-hand smoke's serious adverse health effects accumulate, more states are choosing to protect the health of their residents through public smoking bans.
Environment and Energy: S 60 grants authority to the Public Utilities Commission to develop a plan to ensure that the electric energy for consumers is generated using a diverse range of fuels and technologies, including renewable technologies; to develop and implement a ten-year plan to increase the efficiency of its fossil fuel generation; to consider investing in a smart grid system before investing in nonadvanced grid technologies; and to provide smart grid information to consumers, offer each of the utility's customer classes and provide individual customers upon customer request, a time-based rate schedule. S 57 allows energy conservation to apply toward renewable energy goals and includes hydropower as a renewable sources. S 64 requires energy efficiency and insulation disclosure to buyers of new residential buildings.
Mortgage and Housing Reform: H 1060 revises mortgage lender licensing requirements. H 1028 allows monetary penalties of up to $1000 for violations of real estate appraisal rules. H 1095 adds improper influence of a real estate appraisal to the list of acts that constitute professional misconduct by real estate licensees. H 1124 prohibits improper influence in real estate appraisals.
Criminal Justice: H 1166 gives inmates avenue for DNA testing of new evidence.
Immigration: S 17 requires driver's license applicants to prove that they are lawfully present in the country and makes licenses expire when a person's right to be in the country expires.