When I was elected as a District 4 State Representative, I naively thought that my work load would begin in January and end sometime in March. For some legislators, that isn’t true. Towards the end of the session, a lawmaker suggested to me that I should run for the e-board—that I would be a good candidate and would enjoy it. Okay, not a problem. I did and won a seat on this somewhat prestigious committee.
The Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council is a fifteen member board, made up of six Senators, seven Representatives, the Speaker of the House, and the president pro tempore of the Senate. Each party has a proportionate number of members. The board will meet at least five times during the off-season.
Okay, so what does it do? The easiest way to see what it does is to look at its subcommittees. There are nine subcommittees that are in charge of setting up summer interim studies; reviewing legislative agencies’ budgets; studying office and space planning; overseeing the intern program; reviewing court cases (primarily the Supreme Court) in regard to legislative intent (will recommend corrective legislation if necessary); reviewing the Department of Legislative Audit; reviewing the State Investment Council—the big money guys; analyzing computer technology usage and needs; and studying issues between the Board and the Code Commission. (? Don’t have my hands around that one yet.) I’ve been selected to be on the budget, space planning, interns, and legislative audit committees.
Our inaugural meeting saw the election of chair and vice-chair and a discussion of legislative travel. There are three organizations to which South Dakota belongs: National Conference of State Legislators, the Council of State Governments, and the Midwestern Legislative Conference. One trip per year per legislator is the current policy. There are also four national projects or forums that appointed legislators can attend.
The travel policy used to be much broader—go to wherever and you’ll be reimbursed. Of course, without any restrictions, things got a bit ugly, and travel was restricted. After much discussion of increasing the number of trips to three and adding ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, as a destination, time forced the final decisions to be made at the April meeting. The inclusion of ALEC will be an interesting discussion. While the organizations currently approved are run basically by dues and have legislators’ issues in mind, ALEC is funded about 98% by corporations and tends to have its own agenda—HB1234 for example.
Also in April, we will be deciding which summer studies will be done. Each committee submitted ideas for summer studies at the end of session. Those ideas varied from tribal health to reducing the number of school superintendents to 35 to studying the effects of CAFO’s to mental health laws. Legislators will be voting on them in the near future, and those results will be used in determining the studies.
Oh, almost forgot. There’s that $500,000 that was appropriated for the LRC in the wee hours of the final appropriations committee….to what use will that be put??
And I’m off to learn some more!
Please keep in touch.
Have a great day and take care.