The SD Legislature takes historic steps to improve its appropriations process

Added January 20th, 2016 by

New rules mean greater transparency and more time for deliberation


Budget ProcessRevenue Report now due by 20th legislative day

Historically, the revenue report isn’t approved by the appropriations committee until about a week before end of session (last 12 year average = 7 days).  That lead time shrunk to 3-4 days during the last three legislative sessions.  Under the new rules, interested South Dakotans will have time to provide input to their legislators as appropriators prioritize allocating tax dollars.

Rule 7-11.1.   Selection of revenue targets. The Joint Committee on Appropriations shall select general fund revenue targets for the current and next fiscal years before the twentieth legislative day for the purpose of setting appropriations. The Committee may subsequently adjust the general fund revenue targets.

New timeline allows two weeks for budget setting, legislative day 23 through 32.  During this time the Joint Committee on Appropriations can combine discussion on general bill components, related special bills or amendments  together – allowing for public to follow the appropriators’ deliberation of the entire spending package for each budget area. 

Historically, special bills were introduced separately from the agency programs they may impact, and the general bill wasn’t open for discussion and consideration of amendments until the last days of session.   This new timeline opens the general appropriation’s bill earlier in the session, potentially allowing a more deliberate and transparent discussion of fiscal expenditure priorities. SD Budget & Policy Institute testified at Joint rules committee hearing about the situation:

“Several years ago SD Budget & Policy Institute teamed with the Extension Service and we held meetings around the state in 16 different communities. We educated the people who attended on how the budget process works in South Dakota.  We used our Budget Primer –Many of you are familiar with and have seen it and if you are not we are always happy to get you another copy. The final recommendations that came out of this group were in a number of areas. They looked at education, looked at health care but they also focused on budget process. And I would like to read to you what they recommended on budget process.

For budget systems scheduling – they recommended adjusting the timelines or deadlines to better allow public input.  One of their key concerns was based on what we all know… over the last 12 years 50% percent of the time our general budget bill has been waiting to open up until two days before the end of the session.  The other 50% of the time it was either opened up one day before the end of the session or on the last day of the session.  Leaving those amendments – that careful consideration of the budget amendments to the very last minutes makes it very difficult for the public to perceive transparency in how this process is happening.”  Joy Smolnisky, testifying 1-13-16 to the Joint Legislative Procedures Committee.

7-12. Joint session or action for house and senate committees on appropriations. The Senate and House Committees on Appropriations may meet in joint session or form combined subcommittees to hear agency or other budget presentations. All Joint Committee on Appropriations action shall be approved by a majority vote of the Joint Committee unless a member calls for a separate vote of the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Appropriations in which case a majority vote of each committee is required to adopt the action. The majority vote of the committees in joint session to adopt the action or the majority vote of each appropriations committee to adopt the action constitutes the committee report of the house of origin on the general appropriation bill or an appropriation made by a separate bill.


Legislative Deadlines
Legislative Action   40 Day Session
A. Last day for unlimited introduction of individual bills and joint resolutions1 12th Day
B. Last day for introduction of individual bills and joint resolutions1 15th Day
C. Last day for introduction of committee bills and joint resolutions1 16th Day
D. Last day upon which Joint Rule 5-17 can be invoked on a bill or resolution in either house 26th Day
E. Last day to move required delivery of bills or resolutions by a committee to the house of origin1 27th Day
F. Last day to pass bills or joint resolutions by the house of origin1 28th Day
G. Last day for introduction of concurrent resolutions and commemorations 28th Day
H. During the seven final legislative days motions to reconsider and reconsideration being made upon the same day (any time before adjournment) 34th Day on
I. Last day to move required delivery of bills or resolutions by a committee to the second house1 35th Day
J. Last day for a bill or joint resolution to pass both houses1 36th Day
K. Two days preceding the last two days of a legislative session shall be reserved for concurrences or action upon conference committee reports 37th Day 38th Day
L. The last day of a legislative session is reserved for the

consideration of vetoes

40th Day


1 Bills and joint resolutions must be submitted to the Legislative Research Council at least 48 hours prior to this deadline, pursuant to Joint Rule 6A-5.


17-1. Exceptions to deadlines for appropriation bills. Any general appropriation bill is not subject to the legislative deadlines of C, E, F, I, J, and K, in this chapter, except that the general appropriation bill requested by the Governor shall be subject to legislative deadline C.

Any appropriation bill that is not a general appropriation bill, which is referred to or reported to the floor by the House Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Appropriations or the Joint Committee on Appropriations, is subject to the following legislative deadlines, in lieu of the legislative deadlines of E and F, in this chapter:

(1) Last day to move required delivery of bills by a committee to the house of origin: 31st Day;

(2) Last day to pass bills by the house of origin: 32nd Day.

17-2. Calendar less than 40 days. If a Session Calendar is adopted for a period of thirty-five (35) days to thirty-nine (39) days, inclusive, the legislative deadlines set forth in Chapter 17 of the Joint Rules shall be decreased as follows:

(1)    Decrease the deadlines occurring after the 16th day but prior to the 34th day by one (1) day for every two (2) days by which the length of the adopted calendar is less than forty (40) days;

(2)    Decrease the deadlines occurring on and after the 34th day by the same number of days by which the length of the adopted calendar is less than forty (40) days.




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