South Dakota legislators are spending the holiday season preparing for the 2013 legislative session in Pierre. With a safe driving initiative and criminal justice legislation still under the tree, some state lawmakers don’t plan to un–wrap new gifts come January but revive old ideas. Some South Dakota lawmakers are hopeful the holiday cheer will spill over to the legislative session next month.
“I’m hopeful that frankly some of the reforms that was on the ballot this last election cycle will be revisited,” said Representative David Lust of District 34.
Ballot issues, such as the criminal reform bill Representative Lust and Senator Craig Tieszen have been working on since summer.
“It’s critical given how much our incarceration rates are and the expense of incarceration,” Lust said.
Since 1977, the state’s prison population has increased by more than 500%, outpacing the national growth rate, according to The Department of Corrections.
“We really would like to have a better result with offenders,” said District 34 Senator, Craig Tieszen. “We’d like to change behavior. We’d like to not so much have recidivism in or prison system.”
Tieszen, a retired police chief, says he’s also hoping the third time is a charm for the safe driving initiative.
“We’re gonna ask that we extend the period of driving with an instructors permit or we’re gonna ask to not have any use of cell phones or electronic devices with new drivers and we’re gonna ask to restrict the number of passengers new drivers have in their vehicles to avoid distraction,” said Tieszen.
As for the house majority leader, Lust says he plans to push an initiative near and dear to his heart. “Organ donation is something that’s been a concern of mine,” said Lust.
Both men say no matter the outcome, they’re looking forward to another year of healthy debates.