- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Lawmakers are expected to debate raising revenue to fund roads and bridges, legislative pay hikes and expanding the kinds of games Deadwood can offer this week in Pierre.

Here’s a look at some of the proposals they’ll take up:

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

The debate over raising revenue to fund roads and bridges will heat up when the House Transportation Committee takes up Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s approximately $50 million plan on Tuesday for the first time. The measure includes about $40 million in state revenue from increasing the vehicle excise tax and raising the gas tax and nearly $11 million in local revenues through vehicle registration fee increases.

Sen. Mike Vehle is sponsoring a proposal to raise more than $100 million in the first year for roads and bridges through a variety of fuel taxes, vehicle fees and other assessments. Vehle chaired a task force that met before the session and recommended the plan, which hasn’t had a hearing yet.



Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave said he’s hearing more support for Daugaard’s proposal because it doesn’t include a tax on fuel used by farm equipment, among other issues.

LEGISLATOR PAY

At least three measures to hike legislator compensation are expected to be reviewed in the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Rep. Jim Bolin’s measures would remove a $6,000 cap on legislator pay and allow lawmakers to be eligible for the same pay increases that state workers get when the Legislature passes across-the-board raises for public employees as part of the appropriations process.

Bolin said the measures would help attract candidates to run for office.

“Part of it is a desire to attract a few more people to run for the Legislature,” he said. “The pay is very low.”

House Majority Leader Brian Gosch is sponsoring a proposal scheduled to be heard Wednesday to allow lawmakers to collect salary or per diem for attending the inauguration of constitutional officers and the governor’s budget address.

DEADWOOD GAMBLING

A proposal to authorize three new voter-approved games - keno, craps and roulette - in Deadwood is expected to be taken up by the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Boosters of the historic mining town have pushed the measure as a way to keep Deadwood competitive with other gambling hotspots, and 57 percent of voters supported the proposal on Nov. 4 as part of Amendment Q.

Opponents argue gambling expansions provoke addictions and cause social and financial problems for families in the state.

The South Dakota Commission on Gaming says gamblers wagered about $10 million more last year in Deadwood casino games than in 2013.

ELDER ABUSE

Sen. David Novstrup has put forward a proposal to study elder abuse in South Dakota, which is scheduled be heard in the Senate Retirement Laws Committee on Wednesday. South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson urged action against elder abuse in his State of the Judiciary speech in mid-January.

“I think it’s looking to the future and making sure that we’re protecting people at all ages, especially the elderly, since we’re going to have more and more people in that age group,” Novstrup said.

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