Infrastructure-protection crimes defined by South Dakota Senate

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State lawmakers took another step Thursday in preparing South Dakota for the possibility of protests turning violent.

Senators voted 34-1 for a much-reworked version of SB 151 that defines critical infrastructure and says damaging it or going inside or remaining there, would be a crime.

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for further action.

The legislation would cover a long list including electricity facilities, water systems, natural gas networks, tank farms, pipelines, pump stations, ports, rail yards, truck terminals, waste facilities, oil and gas locations, communication equipment, public dams, facilities requiring federal risk-management plans, construction areas, pipe yards and laydown yards.

To be protected, facilities would need to be enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier “obviously designed to exclude trespassers” and be clearly marked with a sign that is “reasonably likely” to come to the attention of any trespasser.

Any pole or tower would also be included, regardless whether it was marked by a sign or behind an enclosure.

Lobbyists representing electricity and telecommunications providers had supported the bill at a hearing Tuesday. No one testified as an opponent.

The committee removed from the original bill a provision allowing a conspirator to be fined up to 10 times the amount otherwise authorized by state laws.

Senator Lee Schoenbeck, a Watertown Republican, further amended the bill Thursday, deleting a list defining specific criminal actions.

“Just out of prudence, it’s probably a good idea to remove that section,” Schoenbeck, a lawyer and a former state’s attorney, said.

Republican Blake Curd of Sioux Falls and Democrat Craig Kennedy voted against the bill in committee but supported it during the floor vote Thursday. The only nay came from Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert of Mission.

Republican Jim Stalzer of Sioux Falls was the prime Senate sponsor. The lead House sponsor is Republican Kirk Chaffee of Whitewood.

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