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South Dakota lawmakers await governor’s signature on bills

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(The Center Square) – The South Dakota Legislature is on hiatus as it awaits Gov. Kristi Noem’s signature on bills passed this session, including one that increases teacher pay.

Senate Bill 127 would raise starting teacher pay to $45,000. The average starting teacher salary during the 2021-2022 school year was $41,000, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education.

School districts would be required to raise teacher pay and benefits. The fiscal year 2025 budget includes a 4% increase in school spending.

School districts that do not raise teacher pay could face consequences from a newly created School Financial Accountability Board. The five-member board would be overseen by the Department of Education, and its members would be appointed by the governor, according to the bill. School boards must also file annual reports outlining their spending with the Department of Education.

Noem advocated for teacher raises and financial accountability in her budget address in December.

“Since I took office, and with this 4% proposal, we will have increased state funding for our K-12 schools by 26.3%,” Noem said. “But actual average teacher salaries have lagged far behind. Why should we continue to send money to school administrators and school boards when they do not pass it along to teachers? I am working with my Secretary of Education, Dr. Graves, to bring some ideas to the legislature about how to bridge this gap.”

Noem will also consider a trio of bills addressing carbon dioxide pipelines. Senate Bill 201 would allow the South Dakota Public Service to supersede county and municipal zoning laws deemed “unreasonably restrictive.” A $1 per linear foot of carbon dioxide pipeline surcharge could be collected by counties. House Bill 1185 would require companies to give landowners 30 days’ notice before surveying the property and one-time payments of $500. House Bill 1186 would return easements to the landowner if the pipeline company did not get a permit within five years.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission rejected two carbon dioxide pipelines last year – one from Summit Carbon Solutions and one from Navigator Heartland Greenway.

Lawmakers will return to Pierre on March 25 to consider any vetoes, ending the 2024 legislative session.

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