Rep. Finck - Week 3 Legislative Update - 2022
The third week of the 2022 legislative session is behind us and we have one final week of bill introduction ahead of us. Currently, as of this writing, we have 286 House and 173 Senate bills and resolutions. During the final week of bill introduction all legislators are limited to an additional 3 bills each and after that, no new bills can be introduced by individual legislators. This coming weekend on February 5th we will be hosting District 21 Legislative Cracker-Barrels across the district. We will start on Saturday morning at 9:00AM at Booms in Wagner, then be at Pizza Plus in Platte at 10:30AM. Then, after lunch we will be at the Burke VFW at 1:00PM and then finish the day at the Statewide Ag meeting room in Winner at 3:00PM. I would encourage anyone and everyone to attend and participate, we appreciate all the input and the questions that we can get. Hope to see you at one of the events! House Bill 1070, an act to clarify certain provisions of the rural access infrastructure improvements grant program, passed out of House Transportation last week with unanimous support and will now come to the House Floor on the Consent Calendar. The Consent Calendar is a little different than the normal debate calendar. A bill can only be put on the consent calendar if there were no opponents in committee, and the committee cannot have any No votes on the bill. If the bill meets those criteria then it can be placed on the consent calendar. When we address the consent calendar on the House Floor we take one single vote and it applies to all the bills that may be on the consent calendar that day. Additionally, we can not debate the bills that are on the consent calendar, we can only ask questions. This is designed to help us move quickly though non-controversial bills. Senate Bill 118 was introduced last week by Senator Wheeler and I will be priming this bill on the House side. SB 118 is an act to establish provisions related to the testing of medial cannabis. This bill will help us to define the batch size of cannabis products for testing purposes and clarify who and how they are to be collected. The testing of medical cannabis is a critical step in the process to ensure medical cannabis products are what the label says they are and that they are safe to consume. This week I will also be carrying 3 bills on the House Floor on behalf of the Public Utilities Commission. Senate bills 35, 38, and 39 all address the grain buyer protections that we have in South Dakota. SB 35 from the PUC is asking to increase the maximum fine for grain buyer violations. It has become apparent that the current fine levels are just "the cost of doing business" for some and are not serving as a deterrent. Understand that while the law sets the maximum fine, the PUC has the authority to lessen the penalty if circumstances warrant. SB 35 addresses civil fines. The PUC is increasing the civil fine for buying grain without a license, operating a warehouse without a license, and obstructing an inspector's examination of a warehouse or buyer. The bill also contains grammatical cleanup suggested through the LRC's bill drafting process. Section 1 increases the fine, up to fifty-thousand dollars, for operating a warehouse without a license. Section 2 broadens and clarifies those punishable for impeding the commission's investigation and access to warehouse books and accounts. It increases the fine up to twenty-thousand dollars. Section 3 increases the fine upon a warehouse, up to fifty-thousand dollars, for failing to notify the commission of falling out of compliance with financial standards. Section 4 increases the fine, up to fifty-thousand dollars, for purchasing grain without a license. Section 5 increases the fine upon a grain buyer, up to fifty-thousand dollars, for failing to notify the commission of falling out of compliance with financial standards. Section 6 broadens and clarifies those punishable for impeding the commission's investigation and access to buyer books and accounts. It increases the fine by applying the twenty-thousand dollar maximum to each licensing period. As a comparison the staff of the Nebraska PSC recently recommended and $870,000 fine, so the levels we are asking for are still significantly lower than a neighboring state. SB 38 also comes from the PUC, currently grain brokers are not regulated by state law. Grain brokers arrange grain sales on behalf of producers for a commission. While brokers can serve a purpose in the grain trade, too often the PUC sees grain brokers arranging grain sales to unlicensed buyers thus butting producers in jeopardy. This bill asks to make grain brokering with an unlicensed buyer a crime. SB 38 defines grain broker and prohibits brokering to an unlicensed buyer. In Section 2, it simply adds grain broker to the definitions, and, in section 3 makes brokering to an unlicensed buyer a felony, subject to a civil fine up to fifty-thousand dollars. In section 1, the bill also heightens the duty upon a broker, acting as a buyer, to obtain a grain buyer's license. The changes are an important improvement to the South Dakota codified law. Grain brokers regulation helps ensure producers remain protected. Finally, SB 39 helps farmers get paid faster when a claim is made on a grain buyer bond. It reduces the time to submit a bond claim by ninety days which allows bond distribution ninety days sooner than current law. The changes are an important improvement to the South Dakota codified law. Shortening the bond claim period helps ensure producers get bond money as soon as reasonably possible. If you would like any additional information on these issues or any other issues, please contact me by email at Caleb.Finck@SDLegislature.gov or call me at 605-933-2042. Have a great week!