SD Lawmakers talk hot topics ahead of 2018 session

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - South Dakota lawmakers say there will a few standout topics and some bills for the upcoming 2018 legislative session are already filed.

In 2017, major topics included the repeal of I.M. 22 and the replacement with lawmakers' own version of campaign financing regulations, plus the resignation of Madison lawmaker Mathew Wollmann, amid his admission of sex encounters with interns; plus lawmakers passed the release of mugshots for felony arrests and began collecting sales tax from online retailers like Amazon.

Now lawmakers are hoping for some big changes again this year, including changes to the initiated measure process, the budget and non-meandered waters should all be hot topics when the 2018 session kicks off on Tuesday.

"The non-meandered waters issue which involves what rights do fishers and hunters have -- members of the public -- to access water that sits privately owned land," Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson said.

Lawmakers will revisit what to do next -- whether to change the law for some time or keep revisiting it each year. South Dakotans can also expect to see more changes the initiated measure process after a special task force met this summer.

"We came up with 10 bills and then Speaker Mickelson and myself both have additional bills, so there's at least 12," Sen. Reynold Nesiba said.

Even bigger than that?

"The state budget is going to be a major theme every year that's probably going to be the biggest responsibility," said Sen. Jim Bolin. "We have to provide a balanced budget for the state of South Dakota, keep regulations low and at the same time fund basic services."

Some lawmakers say a big part in balancing the budget is drawing workforce members to South Dakota, so workers put that money back into the state's economy. Democrats say higher wages and benefits would help.

"I'm gonna have a bill for paid sick leave, a bill for paid maternal and paternal leave and I also have a bill to protect workers," Nesiba said. "And it's truly aimed at protecting women from gender discrimination."

Open records is also expected to be a hot topic again this year following new details in the Gear Up investigation.

"I'm going to have some legislation on records retention and some open government initiatives," Sen. Billie Sutton said. "During the Gear Up investigation we had a hard time getting a hold of emails and it' just something that we need to get out of the dark ages in that respect, as far as state government goes"

That's not all legislators said they're working on. Education -- especially funding financial aid and lowering tuition at technical education schools, as well as Marsy's Law, are expected to be other topics that spur debate.