BY RANDY DOCKENDORF
State Rep. Stace Nelson (R-Fulton) returns to Pierre for the 2013 Legislature as a familiar face with a new district.
After legislative boundaries were redrawn, Nelson found himself thrown westward into District 19. The district includes northeast Bon Homme County and all of Douglas, Hutchinson, Hanson and McCook counties.
Nelson has become known for his outspoken views, including strong disagreements with GOP leadership.
With the opening gavel set to fall on Tuesday, Nelson shared his views about the upcoming session with the Press & Dakotan.
He thinks three things will gain the spotlight, at least initially, in Pierre — money, money, money.
“Governor Daugaard’s proposed budget raised significant concerns about the spending being advocated and is sure to be an issue,” Nelson said.
He cited a number of areas in particular.
• Education and health care will remain major funding issues, he said.
“In the last two years, K-12 education and Medicare support need an ACTUAL 3 percent,” he said, adding the emphasis.
• Nelson pointed to the lack of specifics tied to one budget item.
“The $600,000 mentioned as a line item to the Board of Regents to provide veterans support — which they should already be doing — with no actual program/service requirements for the board to provide, is unusual to say the least,” he said.
• Nelson called “very concerning” the request for an additional $800,000 to renovate the Game, Fish and Parks (GF&P) building given to the Department of Agriculture, after $400,000 was given to the same project last year.
• He noted the growth of state government by the equivalent of more than 100 full-time employees.
• Nelson also expressed concern about the $5 million request “to cover promises Gov. Daugaard made, that he should have never committed to, especially in light of the referendum.”
• Nelson cited the request for more than $3 million in additional spending for what appears to be another omnibus bill, which he said is not allowed in South Dakota, on criminal justice “reforms” to “save money.”
“(The last four areas) cause serious concerns for actual fiscal conservative legislators and Republicans who support Republican principles of limited government and free market principles,” Nelson said.
Financial concerns won’t be the only issues facing legislators, as gun-related bills may be introduced, Nelson predicted.
“In light of recent tragedies, and slanted political agendas, the defense of law abiding South Dakotans’ Second Amendment rights is expected to be an issue,” he said.
Other law-and-order debates may also lie on the horizon, Nelson said.
“In light of recent appropriate executions of convicted murderers, defense of South Dakota’s current death penalty is expected to be an issue,” he said.
In addition, Nelson plans to reintroduce a bill establishing sanctions relating to the hiring of illegal aliens.
“I have two bills requested by county officials, two bills requested by veteran organizations, and two bills dealing with illegal immigration that I have already drafted, and that I will be bringing for sure at this point,” he said.
In general, Nelson anticipates some wrangling among the GOP ranks during the upcoming session.
“Advancement and support of conservative Republicans, and conservative Republican issues overall, is expected to be an ongoing issue in the Legislature and with this (Daugaard) administration,” he said.
You can follow Randy Dockendorf on Twitter at twitter.com/RDockendorf