PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Just as South Dakota’s Republican governor got a second crack Monday at several bills she wanted senators to approve, the Senate’s Democrat leader will get a second chance at blocking her proposed merger of two state government departments.

South Dakota allows a majority in either chamber of the Legislature to stop a governor’s reorganization order. Troy Heinert fell one aye short Monday on a 17-18 vote to halt Governor Kristi Noem’s plan to form a new state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Heinert gave notice of his intent to reconsider. SRD 901 is back on the Senate calendar for today.

Among its points are “the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as independent departments serve as a valuable check and balance on the other department” and “a combination of the two departments will diminish the focus of services to the
the agricultural producers in the state.”

Republicans hold 32 of the 35 Senate seats. That meant Heinert needed considerable Republican support. One of those voices came from Art Rusch, who said Department of Agriculture officials haven’t been up-front with him over disclosing information from investigations of dicamba damage.

Hunter Roberts has been the acting head for the two departments since the governor announced the plan in August. The proposal has split rural organizations.

Joshua Klumb, who said he might be the Senate’s only crop farmer, spoke in favor Monday.