The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee couldn’t find enough votes Tuesday to adopt big changes the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission wanted for licensing South Dakota deer hunters.

South Dakota uses a drawing system. Hunters can apply for multiple seasons.

Under the change, hunters would have been limited to applying for only one license. Hunters still could have received multiple licenses for different seasons on later drawings.

The panel deadlocked 3-3 on declaring the process complete, a decision that would allowed the new licensing process to go forward.

The three senators and three representatives then unanimously agreed  to send the proposal back to the commission for possibly more work.

“I’m torn. Change is change,” Rep. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton, said. She was one of the initial supporters.

Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory, voted against it. She called for the proposal to be sent back to the commission after the first vote.

State Wildlife Division Director Tony Leif listened, alone, from the front row, as the lawmakers debated.

Sen. Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton, reluctantly supported the changes. “I’m probably going to have a very miserable Thanksgiving,” Kennedy said. 

Sen. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, said he hears at least weekly from people upset with the department.

Russell said he couldn’t vote for it. “I don’t think it’s exclusive to my area,” he said. 

Russell said there have been times when state agencies pulled rules to build more consensus. 

“Without a doubt this is a charged issue,” said Sen. Alan Solano, R-Rapid City. He voted against accepting the new plan.