House speaker, top Senate Democrat among key 2018 players
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers returning to Pierre on Tuesday for the 2018 legislative session will craft the state budget and take up big issues ranging from cracking down on meth dealers to raising legislator pay.
Here’s a look at some of the key political players behind those measures:
GOV. DENNIS DAUGAARD
South Dakota’s governor since 2011 is entering his final legislative session with lackluster state revenues. He’s proposed a plan that would fill an immediate shortfall this budget year and leave most state workers without raises over the next.
Another proposal from the governor that’s likely to spur debate is a push to extend an expiring law that governs the use of lakes on private land for recreation. The issue has long vexed landowners and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
HOUSE SPEAKER MARK MICKELSON
The Sioux Falls Republican decided against a bid for governor, but his 2018 legislative agenda shows above-average ambition. Mickelson wants to end collective bargaining at public universities, ask voters to repeal a victims’ rights constitutional amendment and make changes to the state’s ballot question system. The third-term lawmaker is also backing a potentially contentious bid to raise legislator salaries.
GOP CAUCUS LEADERS
House Majority Leader Lee Qualm, a farmer from Platte, said he’s sponsoring legislation for a proposed $55 million precision agriculture classroom and laboratory project at South Dakota State University that would also include other renovations. Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd was among top lawmakers who announced that all legislators and their staff are expected to attend ethics, professionalism and sexual harassment training later this month.
SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER BILLIE SUTTON
The gubernatorial hopeful plans to sponsor government transparency legislation in the upcoming session as he runs a campaign billed in part as aimed at fighting corruption. Sutton has served in the Senate since 2011, but term limits prevent him from running for the seat this year. Sutton’s legislative votes are likely to be scrutinized in the governor’s race, and he could carry Democrats’ top bills to help boost his profile.
ATTORNEY GENERAL MARTY JACKLEY
A Republican candidate for governor, Jackley is taking a tough-on-meth approach to the Legislature this year with legislation to impose harsher penalties for dealing and manufacturing the drug. His agenda also includes a bill that would require companies to inform state residents whose personal information was stolen in a data breach, a potentially popular change among voters.
Jackley and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem are competing in the Republican primary to succeed Daugaard.
REPUBLICAN SEN. NEAL TAPIO
The first-term lawmaker is forming an unofficial legislative panel to examine state immigration and refugee resettlement programs and propose legislation. The potentially attention-grabbing commission comes as Tapio, who headed President Donald Trump’s campaign in South Dakota, prepares to run for U.S. House.
He would face Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and Dusty Johnson, a former public utilities commissioner, in the 2018 Republican primary.