The Rural Lobbyist: Senate Bill 66 is proof the system can work.

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Emotions and tensions ran high this week as the Senate discussed HB 1069, an act to repeal Initiated Measure 22. It reminded us that politics can get ugly from time to time. However, Thursday's Senate Ag and Natural Resources committee hearing reminded us that politics can also be a vehicle for positive change when we discussed Senate Bill 66. SB 66 is somewhat of a carryover bill from last year; dealing with the voluntary use of buffer strips around lakes ponds at streams. However, SB 66 was slightly different from last year's legislation. This year's bill provides more specifics on how the buffer strips must be maintained and creates a separate classification for the land for taxing purposes. The hearing indicated a strong support for the bill from both a rural and urban perspective. It truly was a great opportunity for all ag groups to come together with our urban partners with unified purpose. Personally, I enjoyed testifying for this bill and reminded the committee why we should pass legislation like SB 66. For many on the committee and quite possibly for myself, this bill will have little immediate effect. However, for future generations, like that of my 2 month old daughter, it will have a significant effect in improving water quality. Note* Chairman Cammack jokingly accused me of using an unfair advantage by showing pictures of my newborn daughter to the committee and audience. In all seriousness, if SB 66 can pass through the Senate and House and receive the Governor's signature, it will be a good reminder that the system can work for the people. Former Senator Jim Peterson deserves our thanks for his role as the author of this conversation. His legislation last year laid the foundation for this discussion. We also should be thankful for the role the Governor's office has played in ironing out the differences and concerns in order to bring a workable bill in 2017. Politics can be a grind, it can be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding. With many issues still to be discussed, here's to hoping we can continue to work together for the betterment of all South Dakotans. For more information on Senate Bill 66, click the link below: http://sdlegislature.gov/Legislative_Session/Bills/Bill.aspx?File=SB66SAG.htm&Session=2017 To listen to SDFU testimony on the SB 66 click the link below (SDFU testimony begins at the 11:45 mark): http://sdpb.sd.gov/SDPBPodcast/2017/sag15.mp3

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