House OKs Punishments For Birth And Death Scofflaws

Capitol News Bureau

The South Dakota House of Representatives approved legislation nearly unanimously Tuesday that would make it a crime for failing to report a birth or a death that occurs outside an institution.

Representative Tim Goodwin, a Rapid City Republican, brought HB 1110 largely because of public concern about a religious compound in the southern Black Hills.

The punishment would be a class two misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

“This bill has been in the hopper a long time,” Goodwin said. “I bring you this bill with a lot of emotion and logic.”

He said the compound has been open since 2005 but there hasn’t been a single birth certificate or death certificate from it.

Representative Jon Hansen, a Dell Rapids Republican, amended the bill to allow a good-cause reason for failing to reach the county coroner or sheriff within 48 hours after a death.

Births would have one year for reporting.

The vote was 67-1. The measure now moves to the Senate for a committee hearing.

Goodwin said he visited “extensively” with state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg who supports it.

Representative Dayle Hammock, a Spearfish Republican and former sheriff, said there are additional reasons for putting the punishment in place, such as for law enforcement and health data.

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