The State Senate has been busy working bills and getting as many introduced as possible before Wednesday’s (Jan. 23) deadline. The House has until Monday to introduce bills originating in the House.
On Monday, there were 155 bills filed on the Senate side, 41 had passed the Senate and have already been introduced in the House or will be introduced in the House soon. Included in those being worked in the House of Representatives is Senate File 104 regarding the state superintendent of public instruction. Senator Gerald Geis (R-SD20, Worland) said, “There was a lot of debate and a lot of amendments, some of which put some powers back with the superintendent. I don’t know what will happen in the House. I was a no vote.”
Geis said he expected some lively debate on Monday on Senate File 96. He said the bill would raise the age from 16 to 18 of requiring students to attend school. Geis said he voted no on first reading. “You can’t force kids to go to school. Students over 16 will just not come and they’ll be marked absent or they’ll cause issues at the school if they don’t want to be there.”
The bill passed second reading Monday with an amendment allowing a parent or guardian to provide a written request for an exemption from the age rule for any student 16 or older.
Geis said Sen. Leslie Nutting of Laramie County is planning to bring an amendment to exempt home-school students. He added he is getting a lot of emails from parents who home-school asking him to support the amendment when it comes.
The bill failed third reading Tuesday.
Another bill Geis is opposed to is one that would increase the speed limit on paved roads from 65 mph to 70 mph. According to the bill, which passed second reading Monday, “The maximum speed limit for paved roadways set in paragraph (b)(iv) of this section may be raised to 70 mph if the superintendent determines upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that increasing the speed limit to 70 mph would not prevent safe and reasonable vehicle operation.”
Geis said, “It will probably pass the Senate but I don’t know if it will pass the House. I’m not in favor.” He added that the Legislature approved legislation last year allowing people to go 10 mph over the speed limit when passing someone. “What more do you need. I think we have a pretty workable speed limit. You can pretty much go 70 mph on two-lane roads and 80 mph on the interstate. That’s moving right on down the road. If something happens you’re not going to shut the vehicle down quick enough.”
SF57 was introduced in the House Tuesday.
Geis said he would not oppose the bill to increase graduation requirement from three years of math to four years. He said the argument for the bill is that if students don’t take math their senior year is that students will forget too much by the time they get to college.
“I’m not going to oppose it. As long as they are teaching them to read, write and do math they can get by in life pretty easy,” Geis said.
The bill, SF95 failed third reading Tuesday.
Geis was one of eight senators who opposed SF45, a bill modifying the restricted driver’s license requirements for drivers between the ages of 14-16. The bill, which passed the Senate early last week 22-8, would allow a driver between 14-16 to drive from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., where the hours are limited to 8 p.m. currently. They can travel up to 50 mile radius from their home and the new legislation would allow up to three passengers under the age of 18.
“It’s OK to let a 14-year-old get a hardship to drive from the ranch to town but they don’t need to haul their buddies around,” Geis said.
Ag committee bills
The ag committee, which Geis chairs, has also been active. They approved a bill regarding the Honor Farm Horse Program. Senate File 75 originally specified that any state correctional facilities could only use wild horses from within the state. An amendment approved Monday by Committee of the Whole allows federal government agencies to provide up to eight wild horses from outside the boundaries of the state within a one-year period.
The ag committee was set to deliberate Senate File 112 this week regarding raw milk. The bill allows for the sale of raw milk under a small herd permit. Geis said, “We need to make sure the state is not liable for any illnesses from raw milk,” adding that he also does not want people to be eligible for disability if it is caused from raw milk.
“If people want to eat raw stuff that’s fine, but don’t expect the state to pick up the tab,” Geis said.
They also will be deliberating SF 137 for the protection of animals. The bill states, “Any peace officer may lawfully interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal, including a household pet, in his presence. Any person who interferes with, obstructs or resists any peace officer in the discharge of his duty under this subsection shall be fined not less than $200 nor more than $1,500 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both … Any peace officer may take charge of any animal including a household pet found abandoned, neglected or cruelly treated as defined in this section. He shall give notice to the owner, if known, and may care and provide for the animal until the animal is released or destroyed. The expenses of care and provision is a charge against the owner of the animal and collectible from the owner by the local government employing the peace officer taking charge of the animal in a civil action. The local government may detain the animal until the expense for food, shelter and care is paid and shall have a lien upon the animal therefor.”
Geis said the state veterinarian office also brought him a cruelty to animals bill, SF143. He said a recent case in Fremont County was thrown out because the statute was “unclear on what was adequate feed and water.”
The bill adds the language under section b that a person commits cruelty to animals if he “confines or causes to be confined any livestock animal and fails to supply the livestock animal with a sufficient quantity of wholesome food and water.”