S.D. House refuses attempt to remove local control over containers, straws

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Legislation that would block local governments throughout South Dakota from regulating containers such as bags and boxes, as well as beverage straws, failed Thursday in the state House of Representatives.

Representative Doug Post, a Volga Republican, gave his notice to reconsider after the vote of 30 yes, 33 no and seven excused. Standard legislation needs at least 36 votes to get through the House.

Post huddled with Senator John Wiik, a Big Stone City Republican, and lobbyists from the South Dakota Retailers Association outside the House chamber’s main doors afterward.

SB 54 had won Senate approval 22-12 January 30. Wiik is the bill’s prime sponsor.

During the House debate Thursday, Post read remarks that strongly resembled what Wiik had read during the Senate debate.

Six of the seven representatives who weren’t on the floor for the House vote are Republicans.

They are Fred Deutsch of Florence, Julie Frye-Mueller of Rapid City, Jon Hansen of Dell Rapids, Jess Olson of Rapid City, Sue Peterson of Sioux Falls and Mark Willadsen of Sioux Falls.

The seventh was House Democratic leader Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls.

During the debate, Post questioned the efficiency of how plastics are recycled.

“It’s funny when you think about it. You got a little plastic bag, you bundle it up and you ship it all the way to China, and then ship it all the way back here in the form of something else. That’s our environmental decisions we’re making. I can’t see how that’s saving a whole lot,” Post said.

Representative Kelly Sullivan, a Sioux Falls Democrat, urged the bill’s defeat.

“I don’t really understand why we would be doing this on a state level. This is a local control issue. And as far as I’m aware, there has not been a single city, county or municipality that attempted to do a ban,” Sullivan said.

Representative Thomas Brunner, a Nisland Republican, praised the bill.

“The more I look at it and the more we talk about it, the more I like it, because it allows businesses to serve the customers,” Brunner said. He added, “It also allows customers to do the ultimate local control, to decide how and where they want to spend their dollars.”

The South Dakota Retailers Association supported the bill. Their lobbyists were in the same huddle with Post and Wiik afterward.

Post said businesses wouldn’t go broke having to buy different bags for different locations. “But it definitely would be a cost prohibiting factor, if you have to buy a certain set of products in order for one store in Brookings, for example, or if you had several stores in the surrounding community that you all owned and bring services in, now you buy different products in different levels.” He added, “It’s just a regulatory burden.”

Representative Oren Lesmeister, a Parade Democrat, questioned Post, who said local governments couldn’t have local bans. Lesmeister used that statement to argue against the bill.

“You really want to talk about local control, the prime sponsor answered the question. You’re taking it all away from them, because that city can’t even make the decision. They don’t even need to have the conversation, they can’t have it, because it does not matter. This state body is looking to ban,” Lesmeister said.

Representative Scyller Borglum, a Rapid City Republican, wondered about the motivation behind the bill.

“This doesn’t strike me as a crisis in South Dakota. We don’t have any…municipalities that are enacting it. I know that we like to throw our phrases around, whether it’s a solution in search of a problem, or a local control or not local control – but holy smokes people, we’re not even doing this in South Dakota,” Borglum said.      

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