PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Senate unanimously agreed Friday there needs to be a missing-persons clearinghouse in the office of state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
Senators voted 33-0 for SB 27 and sent it to the House of Representatives for a second committee hearing.
Lawmakers last year directed that a database be established in the state Division of Criminal Investigation, which is part of the attorney general’s office. Ravnsborg brought the 2020 legislation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill a week ago, but the Senate repeatedly deferred it.
Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert of Mission said Friday that the attorney general has since assured that tribal law enforcement would have access. Heinert is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
The 2019 law dealt with murdered and missing indigenous persons.
Senator Lance Russell, a Hot Springs Republican, chairs the judiciary committee. He said Friday the intent of the clearinghouse is to allow the public to actively participate in searches.
Russell, who challenged Ravnsborg two years ago for the Republican nomination for attorney general, said SB 27 is patterned after Nebraska’s system.
“It’s working fine there,” Russell said.
There will be “little cost” to operate South Dakota’s system, he added.
Heinert said Ravnsborg’s bill deserved to be heard by the full Senate. Heinert said he appreciated the efforts of the attorney general and staff.