The 2019 Legislative Session kicks off next Tuesday. That’s when lawmakers will start dealing with a host of hot topics, including mental health, specifically how it pertains to our drug problems and prison crowding.
I know one of the specific proposals will be to expand what’s called the 211 system statewide in South Dakota,” Assistant Majority Leader, Representative Jim Bolin of Dell Rapids said.
Assistant Majority Leader Jim Bolin of Dell Rapids says a summer task force studied that issue. Another task force also looked at ways to increase funding for special education.
Bolin says the legislature should also increase the state reimbursements to nursing homes to keep them from closing, which has been a troubling trend across the state.
“That’s going to be a very important issue statewide, but especially in some of these rural areas, because in a lot of small towns nursing homes are your bigger employers,” Bolin said.
Other topics lawmakers will be dealing with — funding for pre-k education. Democratic lawmaker Reynold Nesiba is going to introduce a bill to create an early education counsel.
“Simply so we can start working together to assess the problem of what would it take to fund pre-k education,” said Nesiba.
South Dakota is one of only seven states with no pre-k funding.
Speaking of money, lawmakers disagree on what to do with the millions of dollars expected from online sales tax collections. Nesiba would like to use some of that money to remove the 1 percent sales tax on food.
“Sioux Falls only used to have a 1 percent sales tax on food, but we were forced to raise it to two percent for streamlining, because we were told someday we’ll have an internet sales tax where we’ll finally be able to take the sales tax off of food, so I’m hoping we can work on that too,” Nesiba said