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(SD)-South Dakota Legislative Session Opening

By: John Axtell Posted at: 01/10/2017 08:24 AM
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The 2017 South Dakota legislative session begins today with a tight budget and several potentially hot social issues possibly waiting.

      Governor Dennis Daugaard will deliver his State of the State address at noon in the House chambers with South Dakota Public Broadcasting to carry it live on radio, tv, and online.

       Daugaard hopes to put off one hot-button issue or to at least downplay it - restrictions on the bathrooms that transgender students can use at school
     The Republican governor vetoed a bill last year that would have required transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender at birth and many conservatives in the legislature want to take another crack at it.
     Dale Bartscher of the conservative group Family Heritage Alliance Action says it remains a "high priority" for the organization, which hopes Daugaard will recognize the merits of a revised bill and sign it.
      The governor, though, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader it's "a solution in search of a problem" that shouldn't be a priority this year. He said he views any debate at the Capitol as unnecessary because school districts are handling the issue on a case-by-case basis.
      Another issue facing South Dakota lawmakers is the ethics and election package passed by the voters just 2 months ago. The overwhelmingly Republican majority in the legislature wants to repeal it, but  Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has an alternative - a rewrite of state campaign finance laws.

       Krebs convened a bipartisan task force to review the existing campaign finance laws well before the election and wants lawmakers to use the panel's recommendations when they come out.
      Backers of the ballot initiative, though, have hired a lobbyist and say they're prepared to fight at the Capitol and again at the ballot box, if necessary.


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