South Dakota lawmakers face heavy workload, as they head for key ‘crossover day’ next week

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s Legislature returns to action Tuesday for the 21st working day of its 37-day session.

That means lawmakers have eight working days to either pass or kill most bills still remaining in the chamber where they began — a cut-off known in legislative lingo as ‘crossover day.’

As for the exceptions — bills dealing with special appropriations and property taxes — the deadline is March 4 for the first chamber to approve or kill.

Eighteen bills — eight in the House of Representatives and 10 in the Senate — have already been withdrawn by their sponsors. The Legislature’s joint rule 6B-1.1 provides for lawmakers, with the consent of the chamber’s presiding officer, to withdraw bills or resolutions they introduced.

One of the withdrawn bills, SB 87, would have required medical providers to offer to show the mother the remains of the dead fetus after an abortion. Senator Phil Jensen, a Rapid City Republican, was prime sponsor. He had 15 anti-abortion co-sponsors, including both the House speaker and speaker pro tem, Republicans Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls and Spencer Gosch of Glenham.

Legislators began allowing bills to be withdrawn in 2014. There have been some doozies — either outstanding or troublesome — or both, depending on the viewers. Last year, lawmakers withdrew 26 pieces of legislation — 20 House bills and six Senate bills — and one House resolution.

In 2018, lawmakers withdrew 22 bills — 13 House and nine Senate — and two resolutions. In 2017, they withdrew 20 bills — 14 House and six Senate– and two resolutions. In 2016, they withdrew 10 bills, four House and six Senate. In 2015, there were 19 bill withdrawals, eight House and 11 Senate. In 2014, there were 10 bill withdrawals, two House and eight Senate, and one House resolution.


The next big deadline this year is for both chambers to have considered nearly all bills. That comes Monday, March 9.

Lawmakers then have three additional days to try to work out differences between the House and the Senate through conference committees. Each conference committee has three House members and three senators.

The exception to that process is the general appropriations act, more commonly known as state government’s budget that starts July 1.

The budget bill typically has been one of the last measures to be passed. The nine senators and nine representatives who comprise the Joint Committee on Appropriations assemble it. In recent years the budget bill’s passage has been on the last day of the main run of the session. This year that last day of the main run is Thursday, March 12.

The Legislature this year then takes a break until March 30, when lawmakers return to the Capitol to consider any vetoes Governor Kristi Noem has issued. The full calendar for the 2020 session is here.


Lawmakers filed 485 bills this session. That was more than the 463 introduced in 2019. The low was 390 in 2017. The high was 929 in 1957.

This session, the 70 House members introduced 293 bills proposing changes in laws. That was more than the 272 introduced in 2019. The low was 212 in 1905. The high was 576 in 1957.

The 35 senators introduced 186 bills proposing changes in laws this year. That was less than the 191 introduced in 2019. The low was 172 in 2016. The high was 405 in 1913.

The Legislature met in regular session every two years until voters changed the South Dakota Constitution in 1962 to require annual sessions. The vote was 101,548 yes, to 88,118 no.

Since 1963, legislators have met every year in regular session. That switch is a major reason for the high numbers of bills introduced before 1963.

This year House members proposed three joint resolutions, including two that would put issues on the November election ballot for voters to decide. Senators proposed three joint resolutions, including two for voters to decide.


Of the four only one, SJR 501 that would ask voters to legalize sports wagering in Deadwood and possibly statewide through links, has received a committee hearing. The Senate voted 24-10 to place it on the ballot. The House considers it next. The South Dakota Constitution says that joint resolutions on ballot measures don’t require a governor’s approval.

A similar measure proposing a statewide vote on sports wagering passed through the Senate i 2019 but died in a House committee and couldn’t be revived on the House floor.

The public already has put two measures on the November ballot through gathering signatures from South Dakota registered voters. Both deal with marijuana, which is illegal to use or possess under South Dakota and federal laws.

One measure proposes a state law that would legalize medical use of marijuana in South Dakota. The other measure is a proposed amendment to the South Dakota Constitution that would legalize recreational use of marijuana and charge a 15 percent excise tax on sales of it.


The governor on Friday announced she had signed into law the first eight bills to have received the Legislature’s approval this year. They take effect July 1. They are:

HB 1005, revising use of telehealth technologies.

HB 1015, revising banking laws.

HB 1016, revising money-transmission laws.

HB 1017, revising insurers’ governance laws.

HB 1030, revising state Board of Technical Education laws.

HB 1049, setting a word limit on ballot-question pamphlet statements.

HB 1052, changing the term ‘secondary election’ to ‘runoff election.”

There were 15 more bills that have the Legislature’s approval — 10 House and five Senate — on the governor’s desk as of Monday morning awaiting her decisions on them.

The status of every bill introduced this year is available online. It is regularly updated, through the end of the 2020 session.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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