Tad Perry

South Dakota State Representative

District 24 - Hughes, Stanley, Sully, and Hyde Counties

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Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
March 4, 2012

I believe most people would agree that 2012 resulted in more positive legislative activity than a year ago! As the dust settles from the whirlwind activity of the last week of session, there are numerous outcomes that are very positive for South Dakota. Permit me to outline several of these:

  1. Education funding was increased. The K-12 community received $12.8 million in ongoing base funding. Schools also received $21 million in one-time funding. Add to that an additional $15 million beyond the school formula to be received over the next two years to support programs in Gov. Daugaard’s education reform package. This is a substantial investment in the state’s educational system.
  2. Approved the Governor’s education program after numerous adjustments that responded to concerns from teachers and local school districts. Considerable local control was included in the final version of this program. School districts may choose to prepare their own performance pay plan if they do not wish to participate in the Top Teacher Program that was approved for the top 20 percent of teachers. The school community will participate in defining the critical-needs areas to be included in the Critical Needs Teaching Scholarship Program. This is in addition to funding for current high-performing math and science teachers. Lastly, continuing contracts for teachers are eliminated.
  3. Medicaid providers received an additional $6.3 million of state general fund base funding, which will provide $13.4 million in total funds when matched with federal dollars. In addition, they received $14.6 million in one-time state general funds that will be matched for a total of $31.8 million.
  4. State employees received the proposed 5 percent one-time stipend in this fiscal year and will have their 3 percent salary policy in place for the coming year.
  5. The legislature placed $1 million in the cement plant retirement fund as a reserve to pay for future needs of those individuals employed at the State Cement Plant when it was sold several years ago.
  6. Funds were provided for a program to attract new college graduates to teach for a two-year period on American Indian reservation schools.
  7. The Governor’s WIN program to attract and keep a highly-trained workforce in South Dakota was supported.
  8. Funds were invested to repair and restore several state dams under the authority of the commissioner of school and public lands.
  9. State reserves were increased by $26 million, to ensure that this state has adequate resources to meet an economic downturn or to deal with emergency situations.
  10. The Legislature approved creating a long-term planning committee that will help it address state policy issues. This may well be the most important development of the session.
It was a privilege for me to serve you in the House of Representatives the past two years and to advance initiatives for the betterment of South Dakota. I look forward to my campaign for District 24 Senate this year, and I humbly ask for your support as we seek far-reaching solutions for this state.

~Tad Perry


Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
February 26, 2012
Budget, state employees, and education will be the focus of the closing days of the 2012 legislative session. As usual, money will be the driver of most decisions.

State revenues were reported at the end of this past week. The good news is that the state's economy is slowly recovering. The revenue forecast added $12 million to the bottom line for state government in both fiscal years 2012 and 2013. This is above projections used by Gov. Daugaard in his budget proposal last December to the legislature. As a result, the legislature could spend $12 million for one-time expenditures and could add $12 million to ongoing base budgets. Or, it can be added to the already increased state reserves of $109 million.

A major issue that hangs over additional funding for health care providers and K-12 education is the ballot initiative for an additional one-cent sales tax to be voted on in November. One very real option is to do nothing more in funding these two areas and wait to see if voters support the additional money for these areas of need. The ballot issue would split the new funds, $180 million, equally between health care providers and K-12 education.

There is some interest among legislators to provide some additional one-time funds to Medicaid providers. With the new revenue estimates, this is a real possibility.

Both the Governor and the Senate are continuing to support the 5 percent one-time stipend for state employees. The House of Representatives will need to act on this proposal at the beginning of this final week of session.

The Governor's education bill continues to be changed to accommodate input received from local school districts, administrators, and teachers. School districts are being given considerable flexibility for the performance pay plan. The math and science teachers’ proposal has become a critical-needs scholarship initiative, in addition to providing a reduced amount of added salary for current teachers who are evaluated as high performers. Eliminating continuing contracts is still a likely outcome.

As I approach the last week of serving in the House of Representatives, I wish to express my appreciation for the privilege this has been. Working on issues important to people in central South Dakota has been an enjoyable and rewarding experience. After this week, I will turn my attention to the 2012 election season; I look forward to asking for your support in my campaign for the state Senate from District 24.

I welcome your input and feedback during the closing days of the session. You can reach me at rep.perry@state.sd.us

~ Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
February 20, 2012
Last week I had a delightful opportunity to lunch with a group of young professionals who work in state government. They are college educated and interested in advancing their personal and professional credentials. Through their personal growth they improve both their workplace and their community.

Their enthusiasm gave me a boost to re-focus on legislation that I had worked on earlier in this session, specifically a bill that has stalled within the legislative maze. In 1986, a program to provide state employees with a tuition deduction if they pursued postsecondary education was enacted. At that time the only option for higher education was to go to one of the six public university campuses.  State funds were made available to those campuses to support this program.

Over the last 25 years the world of educational access has changed. Today, distance and online education is the fastest growing part of public higher education. And, off-campus education centers, including Capital University Center in Pierre, also have been established to accommodate the needs of young adults who reside away from the public university campuses.

But state support for these opportunities has not been aligned with the current situation. I introduced House Bill 1123 to provide this same tuition reduction program for all state employees, regardless of their location and the site of their studies. The bill passed the House Education Committee 14-0 and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee, where it lost on a vote of 5-3. A bill with 40 co-sponsors and 17 supportive votes out of 22 is currently resting in the legislative graveyard.

The legislative life cycle, however, is never over until the last gavel of the session. In the final two weeks of this session we will receive new revenue forecasts and will make final decisions on the state budget. The cost of my bill to enhance the state's workforce is $600,000. I have, however, been working with the Board of Regents to seek an approach that would reduce this amount even further.

I continue to be convinced that this proposal is good for the state. Young professionals in their 20s and 30s, who are paying off their undergraduate college debt and starting their adult lives, would be given an incentive to continue their education with this tuition reduction. Instead of paying $1,158 for a graduate course, the individual would pay $632.95. For the young adult who has not attempted or completed college, an undergraduate course would cost $549.45, instead of $831. This would be exactly the same price tag that state employees pay for their classes when they go to campuses in Vermillion, Brookings, or one of the other main campuses.

To me, this not only fair but it aligns the original intent of 25 years ago with contemporary practices.Thus, I will be working to amend the general appropriations bill with the necessary resources to make this possible.

During the last two weeks of the 2012 session many changes will take place on key issues.  Please feel free to contact me at rep.perry@state.sd.us on any issue.  

~ Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
February 12, 2012
We are at that point in the legislative session where major policies for the year are taking shape. On Tuesday of this week, we will pass the critical "cross-over day." That is the point in the session where all bills must pass in the chamber where they were introduced. The two major policy areas we are involved in shaping continue to be state employee compensation and education.

As a member of the House Education Committee, I participated in the debate and amending of the Governor's education bill last week. The bill that passed out of committee will be on the House floor for action Tuesday. This amended bill reflects extensive discussions and revisions that have taken place over the past five weeks since the Governor offered his plan in the State of the State address.

In summary, the major policy changes include allowing school districts to opt out of the performance pay plan. Districts that feel strongly that performance pay won't work for them may decide not to be included. Also, school districts have the flexibility to participate in the Top Teacher Program for the top 20 percent of teachers or to develop their own proposal for performance pay.

In response to feedback from educators who did not like the market pay proposal for current math and science teachers, the bill now focuses on new math and science teachers, paying bonuses to those who enter the teaching profession in these fields. They would receive an annual bonus for the first five years of teaching.

Eliminating the continuing contract provision, sometimes called tenure, remains in the proposed legislation. I did manage to amend the bill with a "due process" procedure for teachers. This amendment has not been embraced by those in the education field—school boards, administrators, or teachers. Thus, it will likely be dropped as the bill advances.

My other major activity last week was working on a compromise and rewrite of the Governor's one-time payment plan for state employees. I feel very good about the proposal that emerged from the House and Senate Republican caucus committee of which I was a part. In short, it provides that all employees who make $46,000 or less will receive a $2,300 stipend. This covers nearly 70 percent of state employees. On the other end, it caps the stipend at the salary level of $150,000, resulting in the highest-paid state employees receiving a stipend of less than 5 percent. The proposal also tiers the stipend percentage. An employee who has been with the state for three or more years receives 5 percent; those who have been with the state two years receive 3.4 percent; and those who have been with the state only one year receive 1.7 percent. This was an excellent merger of the Governor's proposal with a bill offered by Rep. Gene Abdallah. This legislation passed in committee Friday and will be on the Senate floor for action this week.

I look forward to these next three weeks as we bring all of these policy proposals to a conclusion. Your feedback is welcomed at rep.perry@state.sd.us .

~Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
February 5, 2012
Week five of the 2012 session will be the only five-day work week for the legislature, and it will be a very busy week. Next Tuesday is the 21st legislative day, the last day to pass bills from the originating chamber. Thus, if a bill is amended, which requires two legislative days to get to the floor for action, the bill needs to pass out of committee by this Friday. The reality is that this week will be filled with committee hearings.

We will also spend considerable time this week sorting out initial details of the Governor's education plan and state employee compensation issues.

The Republican House and Senate caucuses have appointed a six-member group to gather ideas and seek common ground on alternative education proposals. Among the ideas is one to allow school districts an option of whether they wish to participate. If a district doesn't like teacher performance pay, for example, the district could chose not to participate. Another suggestion is to give school districts an option to request a program waiver and submit an alternative approach. 
Different ideas about market pay for math and science teachers focus on funding incentives for new people to enter those fields. One alternative is to fund scholarships at the universities for students who go into these fields. Other suggestions are to structure a loan forgiveness or bonus program for students who graduate within these fields of study and go into teaching for a period of five years. Lastly, there is the idea that school districts could elect to ask for a waiver from the program and submit a proposal for other fields where they have difficulty filling positions.

An adjustment to the continuing contract proposal would be to provide some form of a due-process requirement while eliminating continuing contracts.

Two bills that address the Governor's proposal for a one-time state employee stipend in this fiscal year are Senate Bill 193 and House Bill 1242. The Governor's approach, SB 193, is for a 5 percent distribution. HB 1242 provides state employees $2,300 across the board. The Republican Senate and House caucuses have appointed a six-member committee to work on this issue too. I sit on this committee, along with the other two District 24 legislators. I expect further discussion on alternatives that include capping the percentage stipend at a defined salary level; distinguishing among employees who have had 1, 2, or 3 and more years of service; and awarding the stipend to employees who have performed at a satisfactory level. 

This will be a critical week in the legislative decision-making process for a number of very important issues. Your input is welcomed. You can e-mail me at rep.perry@state.sd.us

~Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
January 29, 2012

As we enter the fourth week of session we have now completed the filing of bills. There are 479 bills and joint resolutions this session. The next two weeks will be filled with committee hearings on each of these.

The District 24 legislators were hosted Jan. 27 at cracker-barrel meetings in Pierre and Onida. The issues discussed covered a range of topics under consideration. Permit me to highlight several of them:

State Employee Salaries. The major question is whether the Governor's proposal on state employees’ salaries will be supported. I believe the Governor's one-time stipend will be approved, although the way it is distributed may change. The FY13 salary policy of 3 percent seems to have wide support among legislators.

The Governor's Education Package. There are a variety of ideas on how teacher performance can be evaluated and the funds distributed, but in the end this proposal is likely to pass. The real burden will be on school administrators to make responsible evaluations. The market pay for math and science disciplines reflects the need to attract and retain more teachers in these fields. Something has to be done to make the teaching profession more attractive in areas where young people have so many career options. The bottom line is that the Governor's proposals should advance the competitiveness of the teaching profession.

Continuing Contracts for Teachers. The discussion around this proposal focuses on having some form of due process. I expect an adjustment to the proposal to provide for this.

A New State Flag. The flag proposal has gotten a lot of attention in the past week. I think it is likely that the Legislature will not adopt a new flag for South Dakota this year.

Drug Testing for Government Program Recipients. There are a couple of bills dealing with this issue. There will be discussions about whether the cost to administer these tests is worth the end goal. There will also be talk about what happens to children when parents are denied benefits and end up costing the state more money—putting kids in foster care, going into the correctional system at $30,000 a year, etc. And I expect a discussion about how we fix the problem of drug use, should we focus on rehabilitation rather than punitive approaches? There is little disagreement over the concern that taxpayers should not be paying to support drug use. The challenge is to balance this goal with the reality of confronting the core problem and unintended consequences.

I welcome your feedback and expressions on these and other issues before the Legislature. You can e-mail me at rep.perry@state.sd.us or tadp3@pie.midco.net.

~ Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
January 23, 2012
As the Legislature starts the third week of an eight-week session, there have been 98 House bills and 72 Senate bills filed so far. There should be a large infusion of bills filed in this coming week.

Of the bills introduced to this point, a large number are "agency" bills, meaning they are brought to the Legislature by various state agencies and departments. The number of those bills this year has been larger than usual as a result of Gov. Dauguaard's efforts to eliminate unwarranted red-tape provisions of law. These bills will likely sail through without much controversy.

As the legislative session gets busier, I have been reflecting on what I would consider to be a successful 2012 session when we are done. I hope one outcome is the Legislature as a body becoming a more equal branch of government. Our founders envisioned a Legislature that would be a source of ideas about the direction of government and society. But in South Dakota, our legislative branch is largely a reactive body. It reacts to ideas that usually come from the Governor. It is also a body that by nature works on an annual budget, passing a spending plan one year to be implemented the next. The end result is that we only focus on what is needed to get by, and rarely do we frame issues from a longer-range perspective.

One way the South Dakota Legislature can strengthen its role is to adopt a strategic planning or long-term planning committee. House Majority Leader David Lust has said he will bring a proposal to create such a legislative vehicle, which will consider issues important to the state’s long-term needs. This committee could give better attention to our state's needs five, 10, or 20 years down the road. As part of its work, the Legislature could develop a framework to address such challenging questions as:

·         Do we have sufficient health facilities and health care professionals when the over 65-year-old population will grow by 62 percent in the next 20 years?

·         How do we grow our economy when our middle-age population is decreasing?

·         How do population shifts impact state services in corrections, human services, and other areas?
In my view, finding a way for the Legislature to be more proactive in policy planning would be a significant improvement.

I will personally seek passage of a bill to enhance educational opportunities for our hard-working and dedicated state employee workforce. An employee benefit was first enacted in 1986 to encourage state employees to seek additional education through the offer of reduced tuition at the six state-supported public universities. But that benefit is not meeting the needs of today’s workers. The current tuition benefit can only be used if you attend one of the residential campuses in our state.  But most non-university state employees live elsewhere—Pierre, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, or in small rural communities. This tuition benefit should be made available at the three off-campus educational centers located in Pierre, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City, as well as for courses taken online or by distance. This employee enhancement program should be open to all state employees, regardless of where they take their higher education courses.

I look forward to working on this and other initiatives as we move toward a successful end to the session by March 2. Please contact me with your comments or concerns.
~ Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
January 18, 2012

I have been reading the book, How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. The authors suggest we need to focus on five things to return our country to world greatness:
  1. More and better education;
  2. A modern infrastructure that serves commerce, i.e. roads, bridges, broadband telecommunications, air transportation, etc.;
  3. Population immigration, especially of the world's talented and skilled;
  4. Expanded research and development capacity to create new products and processes; and
  5. Balancing the needs of businesses to protect their investments and the public's need for safety and security.

Gov. Daugaard's State of the State address to the Legislature as we began our session touched on two of these themes: education and population migration.

Although some have concerns about the Governor's proposals to enhance teacher pay by recognizing performance and market competition, he did lay out a potential strategy to enhance education. I believe the average salary of teachers would increase and the teaching profession would become more competitive for the best talent available.

Investing in strategies to add to our workforce population also is critical to South Dakota’s success. Between 2010 and 2030, more than 40,000 fewer South Dakotans ages 25-54 are projected to be in the workforce population. We need to do something now to make sure we have the workers for our South Dakota economy. The Governor's proposals to aggressively recruit former citizens back to South Dakota and to seek out others to move here are good steps in the right direction. We as a state must extend our hand to new citizens. And, we need to tell people outside of our borders that this is a good place to live, work, and raise your family.

The legislative session this year is off to a slow start. The untimely passing of one of the state's pre-eminent leaders, former Gov. Bill Janklow, and the time we set aside this week to honor his extraordinary service to the state will reshape our legislative calendar. His tremendous vision for and interest in the future of South Dakota were undeniable. It was a privilege to have worked with him.

The Legislature will kick into a higher gear as we near the end of this second week. I look forward to working on the Governor's proposals for education, workforce development, and support for state employees over the next several weeks. 

~ Tad Perry 

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
December 26, 2011
Gov. Daugaard presented a solid budget proposal to the legislature Dec. 7. It was a responsible, yet creative, approach to improving the state’s fiscal situation. Having re-based state expenditures in the current year's state budget, we are now able to move forward, with an opportunity to invest in important state services.

The Governor's proposal to address budget issues with one-time dollars was an out-of-the-box solution to address some of our investment needs. Acknowledging that any budget manager prefers ongoing certainty over budgetary resources, this more conservative approach provides funds without making a commitment to grow the base budget for future years. The governor’s plan provides resources for the next budget cycle, while limiting the base budget’s growth.

The result is that Gov. Daugaard proposed a 3 percent funding increase for K-12 education, health care providers, and higher education for the next fiscal year above what they had to spend in this year's budget. Most of this is ongoing base funding: 2.3 percent for K-12 and 1.8 percent for health care providers.

In addition, the Governor proposed providing $8.4 million to K-12 education to assist with teacher and administrator professional development. These funds will provide teachers and administrators direct funding to engage in professional development, a “win-win” for the state, school districts, teachers, and the students who will most benefit from this.

Of special note is the Governor's recognition that state employees have gone three years without a pay increase, resulting in a more than 9 percent accumulative loss of income to individual employees. I am pleased that Gov. Daugaard is recommending a 3 percent salary policy for the coming year. 

The Governor was exceptionally creative with his one-time salary stipend recommended for the current fiscal year. Although these dollars will not go into an employee's base salary, it is a significant statement about the value of our state employees’ service over a difficult three-year period. It is important to acknowledge that a very talented and skilled workforce needs to be compensated in a competitive matter if we wish to retain them. This is true across the spectrum of state employees—from those who maintain facilities and grounds, to those who lead large departments, as well as university researchers, faculty, and administrators.

Having made the tough decisions on South Dakota’s budget a year ago, we can now look forward to selective investment in state services. The state's financial future faces a number of uncertainties, as the Governor noted. One of those is a requirement for $75 million to $100 million to pay for the state's costs of the federal health care program (as it is now written) before FY2020. We need to begin now to plan ahead as we consider how to balance revenues and expenditures in this state.

As we look toward the 2012 legislative session beginning Jan. 10, the single most important issue for state lawmakers is to establish forward-thinking state policies to best address these challenges.
~ Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
November 28, 2011
One of the major challenges to becoming an effective legislator is to understand the range and complexity of multiple issues that come before us. South Dakota's issues are seldom ones unique only to this state. Thus, I believe it is important to spend time learning as much new information as possible about these issues, along with the different approaches to address them. During this year's interim, I have regularly read several national and regional publications. I also participated in four meetings/events hosted by national or regional organizations, at no expense to South Dakota taxpayers.

At my own personal expense, I attended two meetings of state legislators: the National Conference of State Legislatures, where I was appointed to serve on the Legislative Effectiveness and Education committees, and the Midwest Council of State Governments’ Legislative Workshop.

I was also invited to participate in two academies for new legislators where expenses were covered by grants from the hosting organizations. The American Legislative Exchange Council invited me to participate in its 2nd annual Higher Education Academy in Denver. The Council of State Governments invited me to the Policy Academy for Newly Elected Legislators in Cleveland. These were both wonderful opportunities to network with legislators from South Dakota and other states and to learn about issues that may come before us in 2012.

As I reflect on what I learned from these opportunities, there are several “big-picture” takeaways that are worth noting. These are:

1.       Midwest states recognize the importance of working together to make this region a competitor in the world economy. If we did nothing else but collaborate on international marketing of our products, especially agricultural products, we could improve on our regional economic success.

2.       The most critical thing we can do for economic development is to make sure that our children, especially 3-5 year olds, are prepared for starting school. If you start school behind, you are likely to be behind your grade level by the 3rd grade. Those children who are behind in grade level at the 3rd grade are more likely to not graduate from high school and become a government-supported individual, in correctional institutions, or on welfare as adults. At annual costs of more than $20,000 to keep someone in a correctional institution and up to $15,000 to support a person on welfare, we can save taxpayer dollars if we are attentive to the importance of getting every child ready for school.

3.       Nothing in education is as important as the quality of the teacher in a classroom. If we focused on just that alone, we would solve most educational issues.

I am privileged to have the time to devote to these learning opportunities and I appreciate the chance to participate. By doing so, I believe I can become a more effective legislator for District 24. These learning experiences have given me a good foundation on which to deliver the quality legislative service each of you deserve. 

Please contact me with your issues, questions, or concerns. I can be reached at tadperry@tadperry.com. I would be pleased to hear from you.

~ Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
November 16, 2011

South Dakota lawmakers are citizen-legislators. The legislative session is designed to have us serve as part-time legislators, meeting only during the January-March time period.

So what does a legislator do for the rest of the year? Speaking only for myself in my first year of service, I can share with you what I have been doing.

I was appointed to serve on the Department of Human Services Agency Review interim committee. It was a fascinating learning experience. DHS Secretary Laurie Gill and her able team of administrators walked the committee through their work and challenges. As part of the committee’s assignment, I spent time with OAHE Inc. in Pierre, learning about the work it does to provide services in our community to those with developmental or disability needs. Oahe Inc. provides an opportunity for these citizens to connect with others and to learn life and job skills. The goal is to provide each individual with the support needed to be an independent member of our community. The state contracts with OAHE and other similar community-based agencies for these services. Budget cuts this year were not easy, as these agencies work with very modest budgets.

One issue that came out of the summer study is how to better use available space at the state’s Developmental Center in Redfield, where we operate an institutional unit for those individuals who need a more secure environment, such as sex offenders with mental development issues. The Redfield unit’s population has declined over the years, as community agencies have provided more services. It is clear that we need to retain this secure environment for a limited population, but it is also clear that the Redfield campus has excess space at the current time.

The Retirement Laws Committee, which I also serve on, met with the South Dakota Retirement System’s Board of Trustees and the South Dakota Investment Council to review the status of our state retirement system. I am happy to report that our state retirement system is among the best in the nation in having the resources to meet its long-term obligations to retirees and to current state and local government employees. The retirement board and the Investment Council are doing a very good job of managing this system.

Legislators were given many opportunities over the summer interim to learn more about our state and communities. Here are some examples:

·         I enjoyed a day with the South Dakota Highway Patrol, learning about the use of technology in the patrol’s daily work.

·         The South Dakota Department of Agriculture arranged a combine ride for me to observe firsthand the harvesting of this year’s corn crop. Local farmer Colin Nachtigal was a wonderful host, as he shared the challenges of agriculture with me.

·         Along with Sen. Gray and Rep. Venner, I was happy to host a Town Meeting with the South Dakota Board of Regents in District 24. It was good for our district’s citizens to have a conversation about the issues of public higher education and the outlook for the public universities that our young folks from Sully, Stanley, and Hughes counties attend.

It has been a summer of learning and I am confident that I am better prepared for the issues of 2012. Please contact me with your ideas, issues, or concerns. I would be pleased to hear from you.

~ Tad Perry

Legislative Notes by Rep. Tad Perry
October 24, 2011

On Monday, the legislature, in special session, adopted new legislative districts for the next 10 years. This is required following the federal Census done every decade. In the 1960s the federal courts ruled that state legislative districts needed to reflect the population of a state according to the "one-man-one-vote" principle. It simply means that every person’s vote for a state legislator should have near equal weight.

Over the past decade South Dakota grew in population (814,180 residents, up from 754,844, a 7.9 percent growth), which means that each of the 35 districts needed to increase in population. The Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas had the biggest proportional growth—Lincoln (86 percent), Minnehaha (14 percent), and Pennington (14 percent). Rural counties saw the opposite effect, with many losing population.

The net result was that new legislative districts would have to average 23,262 persons, rather than the 2001 average of 21,566.

District 24, which encompasses Hughes, Stanley, and Sully counties, had a 2010 population of 21,361, which was short of the new average district by 1,901. To keep the current counties together in a new district it was necessary to add one of the surrounding counties. The choices were Haakon (1,937), Jones (1,006), Lyman (3,755), Potter (2,329), or Hyde (1,420). The courts permit a plus or minus 5 percent deviation. Lyman would have pushed the population to 108 percent of the average, thus a little too large. The others would have worked.

The federal courts require that minority populations be represented in redistricting in a manner that reflects their proportionate numbers within the state. The legislative redistricting committee paid careful attention to drawing these districts to meet the expectations of those communities. After input from the reservations, the committee adopted minority population districts that included the counties of Jones, Haakon, and Lyman. That decision left only two areas for District 24 to gain its needed population: north or east. 

Adding Hyde County was a logical choice. It brought the district to within 2 percent of the deviation and added a county that is similar to Sully, rural Hughes, and Stanley counties. 

The end result is that central South Dakota continues to have a district that is similar to the one we have enjoyed in the past. 

District 24 could have the potential for a primary election in 2012 among three current legislators. Sen. Bob Gray is termed limited in the Senate and could elect to run for a seat in the House of Representatives, along with the current House members, Rep. Mark Venner and me. That, however, will not be the case. Rep. Venner has announced that he will seek re-election to the House of Representatives and I announced recently that I will seek election to the state Senate to fill the vacancy created by Sen. Gray’s departure. 

I look forward to working with our new constituents in Hyde County, and also pledge to continue working hard to represent the citizens of Sully, Stanley and Hughes counties in our newly-created District 24.

~ Tad Perry

Contact Tad


Ph: 605.222.7437

2312 Whispering Shores Dr.

Fort Pierre, SD 57532


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