SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Senate action on a bill to create an official government board for South Dakota real estate appraisers will wait another week as lawmakers adjourned before any motions were made Thursday.
HB 1061, a proposal to make an advisory committee for the appraisal certification program protected by state law, is sponsored by Rep. Linda Duba (D-Sioux Falls) and has already passed the House. The Senate Commerce and Energy held about an hour of proponent testimony and lawmaker discussion about the appraiser industry in the state before adjourning at noon with action on the bill expected Tuesday when the committee resumes.
A handful of proponents, many of who are already part of a formal Appraiser Certification Program Advisory Council, testified state law protection is needed for moments of crisis like when Bren was fired. There was no opponent testimony.
“It doesn’t create a new board of commission,” Craig Steinley, an appraiser from Rapid City, told lawmakers.
Steinley said the federal government can invalidate all the appraisers in a state with a stroke of the pen. He said under those unique circumstances, appraisers work very closely with the state regulator position. Steinley said appraisers are cheerleaders of the state regulators.
“Our licenses are on the line,” he said.
Steinley and other appraisers explained how the volunteer advisory council, which started in the early 1990s, worked with state regulators to help the appraiser industry. It helped start an appraiser-training program with federal funding that will start this fall at South Dakota State University.
The unique appraisal industry came under scrutiny in 2021 after long-time director Sherry Bren was forced out and an Associated Press report shed light on a $200,000 settlement from Governor Kristi Noem’s administration.
The settlement came in the wake of one of the governor’s daughters, Kassidy Peters, attempting to advance her appraiser certification. The issue was looked at by the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee which sponsored HB 1061 10-0 after learning the advisory council was not being used for rule changes.
Peters announced in a letter she would be shutting down her appraisal business and the Government Accountability Board decided to give Noem until April 15 — after the legislative session ends — to respond to two ethics complaints including Peters’ application for a real estate appraiser license.
Amy Frink, a longtime appraiser and member of the Professional Appraisers Association South Dakota, has worked on the council and is a current member. She told lawmakers the council met for the first time since Bren left the Department of Labor and Regulation in January.
Frink told lawmakers the January meeting was “awkward but productive.” She mentioned labor secretary Marcia Hultman and a legal representative from DLR attended the meeting where labor officials asked council members about proposals they had not seen or read yet. A follow-up February meeting is scheduled, Frink said.
Frink told lawmakers when she first spoke with Scott Amundson, who replaced Bren as the Executive Director for the South Dakota Appraisers Certification Program, he told Frink he was advised not to meet with current appraisers.
Amundson has since resigned from the position and the state is currently without a director of the Appraisers Certification Program.
Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) asked if HB 1061 won’t be needed once a new executive director takes over position and restores meetings with the advisory council.
“There has to be a communication path,” Steinley responded.
Ron Rossknecht, an appraiser from Hill City, said PAASD hasn’t had a voice in the last year at the state level and said HB 1061 gives PAASD a voice.
Frink said all the advisory council knowledge could disappear with a new executive director and that’s why HB 1061 is needed.