S.D. Legislature has plenty of hot issues to handle with one month left in 2020 session

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — With the 2020 session of the Legislature just past the half-way mark Monday, here’s a look at some of the major issues South Dakota lawmakers are trying to deal with:

HB 1117 is the second attempt by Governor Kristi Noem at rewriting South Dakota’s riot laws. A federal judge gave the boot last year to not only parts of her 2019 law meant to punish the act of riot-boosting, but he also bounced other older laws too, and state government paid attorneys’ fees to the winning ACLU side. The House State Affairs Committee endorsed this 2020 version last week despite objections, including from Democratic lawmakers and the Republican House speaker. The full House could take it up Tuesday afternoon.

Also on the House calendar for possible action Tuesday afternoon is HB 1079, an attempt to let county governments charge up to an additional $25 for handling motor-vehicle registrations requested through the mail. Representative Tim Goodwin, a Rapid City Republican, is prime sponsor, and several county officials testified for it last week, including Pennington County Treasurer Janet Sayler. Governor Kristi Noem in 2018 pledged to veto any tax increases. South Dakotans will get to see whether she judges this to be a tax disguised in a fee’s clothing. She didn’t send anyone to testify against it.

Another issue the House takes up Tuesday afternoon is reconsideration of SB 54 that would remove local governments from deciding how containers and straws should be regulated in the communities. The House failed to approve it Thursday, after it cruised through the Senate. Representative Doug Post, a Volga Republican, has led the push for it in the House. Failing on the House reconsideration vote means this would be dead.

HB 1169 would in several ways substantially strengthen South Dakota’s ban against texting while driving. It came out of a House committee last week. Next step is House consideration, possibly as early as Wednesday afternoon. Prime sponsor is Representative Doug Barthel, a Sioux Falls Republican and a past police chief.

HB 1200 that establishes summer ditch-mowing dates in state law could be significant regarding South Dakota’s supply of pheasants for hunters in the fall. It’s scheduled for a House committee hearing Tuesday morning. Prime sponsor is Representative Caleb Finck, a Tripp Republican who farms. The state Transportation Commission already has dates in rules.

HB 1235 would change South Dakota’s immunization laws for schools from a general requirement into a recommendation, and also would allow anyone to decline treatment. The bill from House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte is assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee. A hearing date hasn’t been set.

The final version of HB 1096 might still be taking shape in the Senate. It would ban commercial surrogacy contracts — in other words, a woman agreeing to be pregnant for another woman — in South Dakota, but House members amended the legislation to also call for an interim study of the issue. They then sent it to the Senate, where it’s assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. A hearing date hasn’t been set. Representative Jon Hansen, a Dell Rapids Republican, is prime sponsor. The lead sponsor in the Senate is Republican Al Novstrup of Aberdeen.

The Senate is scheduled to debate HB 1083 Tuesday afternoon. It would change the names of South Dakota’s four public technical institutes to technical colleges at Sioux Falls, Mitchell, Watertown and Rapid City. The state Board of Technical Education requested the change. If there aren’t any new amendments, Senate approval would be final legislative passage and the bill would head down a floor to Governor Noem for her decision whether to sign it into law. It was on the consent calendar but Senator Lance Russell, a Hot Springs Republican, wanted to let the Senate talk about it.

Last week the Senate voted 19-14 for a much-amended version of SB 113 that would greatly increase the periods that people ages 14 until 18 have to spend learning to drive and would add requirements that teens younger than 18 need to practice at night and in poor weather. Senator Deb Soholt, a Sioux Falls Republican, is prime sponsor. The bill now moves to the House, where Representative Roger Chase, a Huron Republican, is lead sponsor.

The Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning will get the first look at SB 157, the governor’s legislation that would change county planning and zoning processes for concentrated animal-feeding operations. Supporters say they’re often hamstrung by the current processes, while opponents say the proposed changes would reduce the public’s opportunities to participate in county decisions.

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