PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Real-estate appraisers aren’t yet seeing eye to eye with the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.

Two members of the state government’s official Appraiser Advisory Council were the only ones who raised questions Tuesday at a public hearing on proposed rules intended to help more people get into the business, especially in rural South Dakota.

The department wants to try several ways to address the shortage.

One is an experience training program at South Dakota State University. The Brookings campus already offers a 19-credit minor in land valuation and rural real estate.

Another is creating a new classification, known as a NFRT-licensed appraiser. The person wouldn’t need any experience but would be highly restricted, including prohibited from doing “appraisals requiring a state-certified general, state certified residential, or state-licensed (appraiser) or when the appraisal is for use in federally related transactions.”

Anna McCarthy, the new executive director for the state Appraiser Certification Program, and department attorney Amber Mulder conducted the hearing.

Professional appraisers Amy Frink of Aberdeen and Paul Reisch of Watertown described some of what they see as the plan’s shortcomings and problems.

Frink noted one example. The ranking system for acceptance into the experience training program awards 35 points if the applicant is from a county of 10,000 population or less. Frink said the advisory council had suggested a staggered population-points relationship.

“It would be a great way to ensure smaller counties are represented,” she said.

Mulder replied that department officials are still evaluating the proposal. “Some things may be under consideration yet,” she said.

The Professional Appraisers Association of South Dakota also submitted 29 pages of objections. Frink is vice president.

The document says NFRT isn’t defined at the federal or state level and suggests instead a different category of ‘registered trainee appraiser’ that would be compliant with the national Appraisers Qualifications Board.

McCarthy said the department will accept written comments until April 19. They can be mailed to: Appraiser Certification Program, 217 W. Missouri Ave., Pierre, SD 57501. Written comments also can be sent through the email portal: https://apps.sd.gov/LD01EmailContact/Default.aspx?ID=101.

The program has been under fire since last year, after the former executive director, Sherry Bren, received a $200,000 settlement from the Noem administration after she filed an employment rights lawsuit arguing she was forced to retire. The settlement included a non-disparagement clause.

That came months after Governor Kristi Noem held a meeting at the state mansion with Bren and top officials from her administration, as well as the governor’s older daughter, who at the time was attempting to upgrade her appraiser license.

The Senate in the 2022 session stopped legislation that would have put the advisory council in state law. Noem however signed into law another bill regarding settlements that Representative Ernie Otten, R-Tea, sponsored.

Its final version says, “A nondisparagement or similar clause is void and unenforceable to prevent the communication or disclosure of facts to the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council or the Government Operations and Audit Committee as to any state government activities associated with any settlement agreement to which the state, an agency thereof, or officer or employee thereof in an official capacity pursuant to chapter 3-19, is a party.”