PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — No community in South Dakota has banned bags or boxes or beverage straws.
And Senator John Wiik doesn’t want them to get the chance.
A majority of the state Senate agreed with him Thursday, voting 22-12 to add “auxiliary containers” and drinking straws to a list of items that in South Dakota can be regulated only at the state level.
SB 54 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Only Republicans voted for it. Seven Republicans and the Senate’s five Democrats opposed it.
Wiik, a Republican from Big Stone City, was polite in the role of a conservative social warrior, as he read his remarks from the laptop he perched on the corner of his desk, where a plastic cup full of bendable plastic straws had been just an hour before.
He said the legislation defined auxiliary container in “painstaking detail.”
“It’s a grocery bag. It’s a drink cup. A dry cleaner’s bag. A take-out box. A plastic straw. It’s a clean, safe, affordable way to get the groceries home, the clothes back from the cleaners, the dinner home, and maybe have a refreshing drink on the way there,” he said.
Wiik described South Dakota as a large, rectangular small town with less than 900,000 people. “We’re a small market who struggles to participate in the economy of scale. I believe that someone who owns, say, convenience stores in Sioux Falls and Tea should be able to buy the same supplies for both stores,” he said.
He added, “And I believe a statewide pre-emption is the way to get away from localized bans that do nothing more than create a patchwork of potentially confusing regulations.”
Senator Reynold Nesiba, a Sioux Falls Democrat, asked several questions. One was this: “How many municipalities has this ban applied to, and what’s the main problem of the existence of the ban right now? What problem is it causing?”
Wiik answered, “There have been studies in several communities around South Dakota. However, no ordinance is in effect at this time.”
Senator V.J. Smith of Brookings was one of the Republicans who spoke against and voted against.
Smith said that when he ran for office, he preached that “local is best” but hasn’t been able to figure out where the line is.
“Sometimes I wonder, when we move forward with that ‘We know better than you’ attitude, I don’t think that’s always helpful. I trust the people back home, and I know you trust the people in your home communities, to make decisions about themselves and the way they operate,” Smith said.
State law already exempts beverage containers, garbage bags and plastic packaging materials from local regulations and bans littering.
“We have laws in place that protect our land, our water, our resources, in many different ways. I believe that establishing a statewide policy relative to this issue is appropriate, as we’ve done with so many other issues, in order that we don’t have a chaotic patchwork of differing standards across the state,” Senator Brock Greenfield, a Clark Republican, said.
In his remarks Greenfield covered a wide set of issues that brought a quick rebuttal from Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert of Mission. “We went from guns to marijuana, and that is a stretch no matter the size of the plastic bag,” Heinert said.
Laughter filled the chamber. But Wiik would leave with the lasting smile.
How They Voted
Yes — Rocky Blare, R-Ideal. Jim Bolin, R-Canton. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center. Jessica Castleberry, R-Rapid City. Bob Ewing, R-Spearfish. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City. Joshua Klumb, R-Mount Vernon. Jack Kolbeck, R-Sioux Falls. John Lake, R-Gettysburg. Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen. Jeff Partridge, R-Rapid City. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland. Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls. Jim White, R-Huron. John Wiik, R-Big Stone City. Jordan Youngberg, R-Madison.
No — Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls. Helene Duhamel, R-Rapid City. Red Dawn Foster, D-Pine Ridge. Troy Heinert, D-Mission. Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls. Ernie Otten, R-Tea. Art Rusch, R-Vermillion. V.J. Smith, R-Brookings. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls. Wayne Steinhauer, R-Hartford. Susan Wismer, D-Britton.
Excused — Margaret Sutton, R-Sioux Falls.