Bills affecting SDSU move through legislature

 House Bill 1112 and Senate Bill 94 passed through appropriations committees March 3, making more progress to be passed.

 Both bills directly affect South Dakota State University, with HB 1112 appropriating $5.52 million worth of funds to the swine unit to expand research and facilities. SB 94 would grant the Board of Regents approximately $1.9 million to pay a portion of BOR employees’ health insurance for the 2014 fiscal year. If the bill passes, tuition would be frozen for the 2015 fiscal year.

 HB 1112 passed through Senate appropriations on Monday with a 9-0 vote. 

 “We stand in strong support of this bill,” said Executive Director of the BOR Jack Warner. “The regents allocated $1 million in HEF funds, that is in an account under the regents control.”

 Not only is the BOR contributing to the research and the new facility, but Minnesota and Iowa Pork Boards are contributing donations as well. Gov. Dennis Daugaard sponsors the bill.

 “As the governor has focused on economic development throughout his tenure and that’s one of the areas he’s made a priority,” said Nathan Sanderson, the policy adviser of the governor’s office. “We believe that this facility is really going to be the next generation, a state of the art education of research facility that will help agriculture even further.”

 Now, HB 1112 has been passed to the full Senate.

 SB 94 passed through House appropriations with an 8-0 vote as well. If the bill passes, $1.9 million will be used to help allocate the 28 percent increase in health insurance costs for BOR employees. Tuition would not be raised to allocate the increase.

 “When we know what the increase of health insurance is, we can plan for that,” said Monte Kramer, the BOR vice president for administrative services. “We can set the tuition and fees and at the appropriate amount and fund them, but when rates and increases like this come up mid year … there really is no way for the campuses to adjust their budgets to address that.” 

 Another proponent that spoke for the bill was South Dakota student regent Joe Schartz.

 “We are asking you to give your approval for Senate Bill 94 because it makes good economic sense for South Dakota,” Schartz said. “Please invest in the students of South Dakota.”

 Opponent of the bill, Liza Clark, pointed out that if the bill does not pass, the BOR would one of many groups that would go without additional funding for the health insurance increase.

 “This is the only agency we are giving money to help cover the other portion of the health insurance increase,” Clark said. “We do recognize that there are other state agencies that could use this funding.”

 SB 94 will now be passed onto the full house.

 SB 15, a piece of legislation that will approve the new stadium project, has been passed through the senate 34-0. House appropriations passed the bill 8-0, and onto the full house. The House has deferred the bill to another day twice so far. The facility has been looking closer to the number of $65 million, with an official number of donations at $19.8 million.

 Senate Bills 16 and 17 would allow the BOR to purchase land within the city of Brookings and Brookings County. The two bills have been passed through the senate and the house appropriations committee. The bills have been presented to the full House and have been deferred to another day twice. Senate Bill 20, which gives the BOR authorization to demolish buildings on SDSU campus follows the same pattern.