Rapid City leaders spell out goals for upcoming Legislative session

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Bacon and eggs provided the backdrop Tuesday morning as Rapid City political leaders and department heads treated KOTA Territory legislators to breakfast -- and took a moment tell them what they'd like to see come out of the session in Pierre this year.

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender addresses area lawmakers Tuesday.

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender touched on five points he said he hoped the lawmakers address.

First, he said that criminal justice reforms the state adopted in 2013 must be re–examined. The law allows certain drug offenders to avoid prison time but was enacted before a wave of methamphetamine use hit the state.

“We are at greater risk now from methamphetamine addicts and other drug addicts than we were before the reform (known as Senate Bill 70),” said Allender. “That was not the intent of the bill. So there's some repair needs to be done.”

The mayor says the state needs to help create more treatment options for the addicts who statistically are behind a spike in violent crime.
He'd also like to see a hike in the lodging tax that hotels charge guests. He says neighboring states charge more.

“We are the state within a region of states where people go specifically to see things and do things,” he said. “So our lodging tax should be similar to those states around us, not less.”

He also called for a mandatory seat belt law.

“It's common sense,” he said. “Anybody that wants to stay alive tomorrow will wear their seat belt today.”

The mayor said he's opposed to any changes in the state's marijuana laws and made a forceful pitch to join the majority of other states that tax internet sales.

Some Legislators, however, said the mood in Pierre is decidedly conservative and that it might be a hard year to push through new regulations or taxes.

“If we want to retain our college graduates, if we want to get high tech jobs in South Dakota, if we want to attract high–paying quality jobs in South Dakota, we're going to have to do something about government constantly driving to over-regulate and overstep their boundaries,” said freshman Rep. David Johnson, R-District 33.

The 2017 Legislative session gets under way next Tuesday in Pierre with Gov. Dennis Daugaard's State of the State address.