Legislative Highlights 9-18-13

Posted September 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

This week I will share some current financial information on how the State of South Dakota is fairing for revenue for the first two months of fiscal year 2014 which started on July 1. The state’s revenue for the first two months of the fiscal year is just over $240 million. This compares to last year’s revenue of almost $233 million for the first two months. Thus, the state’s revenue is $7.185 million ahead of last year or 3.1% higher. The state is $430,000 ahead of its budgeted revenue for the current fiscal year or one fifth of one percent more than budgeted. These numbers represent a very good sign of our state’s continued improving economy and speak well for our overall budgeting process.

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I’m going to shift gears now and bring you up to date on unclaimed property claim activity as shared with me by State Treasurer Rich Sattgast. The State Treasurer’s office had a booth at six fairs again this year including Brown County, Central States, Dakotafest, Sioux Empire, Turner County, and the State Fair. What I am sharing with you are only the claims that could be fully processed during the fair as the claimant was able to provide all the necessary identification to process their claim at the fair. It does not include claims that may be forth coming from someone who took home the information and will submit the required information in the future.

In the past, the Sioux Empire Fair had the distinction of having the highest number of claims of any of the fairs. This year that title was taken over by the State Fair with 60 claims processed, double its 2012 activity. Sioux Empire and Turner County shared the second spot with 53 claims processed followed by Central States with 40, Brown County with 31, and Dakotafest with 7. However, Dakotafest had the top claim in the amount of $20,735.44 and the State Fair’s highest claim was $7,200. The lowest claim of all the fairs was $10 as the printout that the state provides at the fairs only prints outstanding amounts of $10 or higher. Thus, if you checked for your name at the fair and it was not there, it does not mean that you don’t have funds in unclaimed property. If you do, it would be less than $10. You can go to www.sdtreasurer.gov and see if the state is holding some of your money in unclaimed property. There is over $113 million in the state’s unclaimed property account waiting to be claimed.

Thank you for your interest in state government. It is my honor to represent you. I look forward to hearing from you at 350-1371 or by email at dickwerner_5@


Because South Dakota lawmakers failed in the 2012 and 2013 Legislative Sessions to pass changes that attempted to rewrite who’s covered by domestic abuse laws, the Executive Board of the South Dakota State Legislature authorized a summer study on Domestic Abuse. The 2013 legislation ended in a stalemate after House members decided the law should not cover same-sex couples. Therefore, members of the summer study are preparing to offer a multi-faceted package of legislation to introduce during the 2014 Legislative Session. The proposed changes would hopefully protect more people, including children of abuse victims and strengthen directives provided to law enforcement officers and prosecutors.

During the afternoon of our September 4th meeting in Pierre, committee members heard Charlie McGuigan, the state’s chief deputy attorney general speak about the number of domestic abuse incidents in our state. He reiterated that every year the number of domestic violence incidents reported in South Dakota increase. In Beadle County, for example, during the past several years there have been over one hundred domestic violence cases prosecuted every year.

Also presenting information to the panel were representatives from the Department of Social Services. Discussed were services offered by statewide organizations addressing domestic violence and sexual abuse and grants and technical assistance provided to grantees by Victim’s Services Program. Of particular interest were the changes made to “streamline” grant management for grantees. This past year DSS updated its database allegedly making it easier for grantees to accurately keep records of victims served and to collect data required for all Victims’ Services grant reporting as well as other local reporting needs. An extensive discussion ensued regarding glitches in the newly implemented “streamlined” database.

Since current state laws on domestic abuse are imprecise on who is and who isn’t covered, people living together are protected, including roommates who aren’t in a sexual relationship. However the laws don’t address people who are dating and live separately. Therefore our chairwoman suggested that two committee subgroups be formed-one to rewrite definitions of relationships, what constitutes intimacy, dating, and domestic abuse vs. domestic violence, and the second to address other topics such as an enhanced penalty if domestic abuse occurs in the presence of a child. Also under consideration are steps for streamlining processes for protection orders and stalking statutes, including those issued by tribal courts as well as more frequent training for those involved in domestic abuse situations, including judges, and more financial support of victims.

Members of the Domestic Abuse Summer Study will convene in Pierre again on October 21st with the subgroups meeting in the morning, followed by the full panel to discuss 2014 Legislative proposals. I am optimistic that committee members will propose positive changes to our current

Legislative Highlights