South Dakota Legislature roundup for Monday, January 25, 2021

Capitol News Bureau

CHANGING WORLD: The governor’s proposal to open South Dakota’s medical laws to the practice of telehealth is filed.

Senate Bill 96 would repeal the prohibition against telehealth being used in the absence of the provider-patient relationship. That sentence would be replaced by an acceptance of telehealth.

This reflects the advance of internet technology into remote areas of South Dakota and the barrier that distance raises between patients and providers.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee chaired by Republican Wayne Steinhauer of Hartford will shepherd the bill for Governor Kristi Noem.

BALLOT MEASURE BATTLE: Republican Representative Fred Deutsch of Florence has never feared a political fight on something he thinks is important. With House Bill 1054, he’s taking on the sponsors of ballot measures.

Deutsch wants them to be responsible for providing copies of their proposed measures to voters who request them, whether in person or by mail. This could potentially costs groups tens of thousands of dollars or more.

The House State Affairs Committee scheduled the bill’s first hearing this morning.

Deutsch by the way was no fan of the three ballot measures in the 2020 election. Two years ago, he voted against the House debating whether to put the Deadwood sports-wagering amendment on the ballot and he wasn’t on the floor for the vote last year. He opposed both marijuana legalization measures too.

On November 20, he posted on Twitter, “South Dakota’s Constitutional Amendment A to legalize marijuna is being taken to court. The issue is: ‘Is Constitutional Amendment A constitutional?’, NOT that the voice of the people is meaningless!”

DRINKING, AGAIN: Legislative resolutions in many cases are a statement of a political position without the force of law. There appears to be a deeper message behind House Concurrent Resolution 6002 regarding standards of conduct for legislators.

Nowhere in its contents does its prime sponsor, Representative Tom Pischke, a Dell Rapids Republican, mention the incident on the final day of the 2020 session, when then-Senate Republican leader Kris Langer of Dell Rapids and Senator Brock Greenfield of Clark returned impaired after drinking alcohol at a lobbyist’s house near the Capitol.

One of the resolution’s co-sponsors is Representative Phil Jensen, a Rapid City Republican. Jensen was the senator who lodged a 3 a.m. protest that night. It led to an official investigation and a formal admonishment by a special Senate panel for the two.

Langer later dropped out of her re-election bid and no longer is in the Legislature. Greenfield wasn’t opposed for re-election, but a majority of Senate Republicans went a different direction for this session and didn’t return him as Senate president pro tem for this term.

REVISING STATE-TRIBAL: Senator Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown wants to change the partisan requirements for the Legislature’s State-Tribal Relations Committee and how its leaders are chosen.

The 10-member panel has five representatives from the House and five from the Senate, with no more than three from each chamber’s majority party.

Senate Bill 97 would repeal the three-member maximum and make the appointments proportionate to the minority party’s members, with at least one minority seat guaranteed from each chamber.

This is similar to what the Watertown Republican proposes for the Retirement Laws Committee.

Driving the changes wre the 2020 election results that saw Republicans increase their numbers at the expense of Democrats, Republicans now hold 32 of the 35 seats in the Senate, up from 30, and 62 seats in the 70-member House, up from 59.

Schoenbeck also wants to remove the State-Tribal committee’s power to select its own leadership. He proposes instead that the committee would be run by co-chairs appointed by the Senate president pro tem and the House speaker. Schoenbeck is Senate president pro tem.

The chair for the 2020 version of the panel was Democratic Rep. Shawn Bordeaux of Mission, while the vice chair was Democratic Senator Red Dawn Foster of Pine Ridge. They are respectively members of the Rosebud Sioux and Oglala Sioux tribes.

D.C. STATEHOOD: Senator Jim Bolin, a Republican retired educator from Canton, Representative Charlie Hoffman, a Republican rancher and farmer from the Eureka area, want the Legislature to tell South Dakota’s three members of Congress to oppose statehood for the District of Columbia.

The Senate State Affairs Committee holds a hearing this morning on their resolution, SCR 601. Among the points in it: “(T)he District of Columbia is in no way representative politically of any of the fifty states, having regularly voted by more than seventy-five percent for the same party’s presidential candidate in each election since 1972.”

The U.S. House of Representatives approved statehood for the district last year 232-180. South Dakota’s member, Representative Dusty Johnson, cast a nay.

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