State Legislators sprint to finish - KOTA Territory News

State Legislators sprint to finish

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It was a very busy couple of months for South Dakota lawmakers, but with the clock ticking, state legislators rushed to pass their bills before the March 9th deadline.

A flurry of bills made their way to the capital last week, and just before midnight, South Dakota legislators could exhale.

"I'm extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish," said Republican Senator Mark Hereby.

Among the Hundreds of bills brought before the house, abortion waiting periods, teen cell phone ban, the Sentinel Bill, and the Criminal Justice Initiative were just a few of the high profile bills voted on this session.

Lawmakers also approved a $4.1 billion state budget.

"That 30 page bill that we passed last night just starts in the beginning of January," said Kirkeby. 

Before passing the budget, legislators had to wait on other bills to determine how much they could spend.

The Criminal Justice Initiative was one of the earlier bills to pass, which was a big win for Republican Senator Craig Tieszen.

"Rather than just incarcerate people," said Tieszen. "We're going to spend some resources to keep them out of jail and prison."

The initiative states that it "Recommends policy changes to be implemented that will improve public safety, hold offenders more accountable, and reduce corrections spending."

Possibly the most disputed bill to pass was the Sentinel Bill, which allows for school personal including teachers to carry guns.

The final decision to arm school personal comes down to the schools themselves, and that is the reason why some lawmakers say it passed.

Regardless of bills that made the cut, and those that did not, some lawmaker felt this year's session was successful.

State legislators will now take a break and get back to their day-to-day jobs. Some; however, say they are already looking forward to next year.

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