South Dakota Legislature roundup for Thursday, January 28, 2021

Capitol News Bureau

OBSCENE DOLLS: A proposal from Senator Jessica Castleberry might draw attention. With SB 126, the Rapid City Republican wants to criminalize the creation and distribution of child-like sex dolls

Her legislation would make it a class-4 felony punishable by up to 10 years in the state penitentiary and a $20,000 fine. It also calls for a subsequent offense within 15 years to be a class-3 felony with sentences up to 15 years and $30,000.

Representative Tim Reed, a Brookings Republican, is the bill’s lead sponsor in the House.

LEGISLATIVE VACANCIES: Some lawmakers want voters to decide whether South Dakota has the right process for replacing legislators who don’t finish their two-year terms.

Representative Drew Dennert, an Aberdeen Republican, has offered HJR 5002. It would ask voters to change the South Dakota Constitution regarding legislative vacancies.

The constitution currently says the governor shall have the power to appoint replacements. Dennert proposes to change that so the Legislature by law would have the power. His resolution also would require the replacement be from the same political party.

The governor, by the way, can’t veto a resolution under South Dakota’s system of state government. If the House and the Senate approve, the vacancy question would be on the November 2022 ballot.

GFP COMMISSION: House Speaker Spencer Gosch wants to change state laws regarding who the governor can appoint to the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

The governor currently can’t put more than four people from the same political party on the eight-seat panel, and four members must be “farmers actually residing on a farm or working
8 primarily on a farm.”

The Glenham Republican has offered HB 1115 that would repeal the political-party limit. It also would repeal the required rotation of Republican and Democratic chairs.

A.G. STATEMENTS: The Legislature has taken steps in recent decades to somewhat clear up the sometimes confusing process of presenting ballot measures to voters. (There also have been efforts to further complicate the process.) Now Senator Mike Diedrich wants to give the public a voice in shaping the official statements that the state attorney general must submit.

The Rapid City Republican has offered SB 123 that would require the attorney general to propose a draft statement, post it on the attorney general’s website, issue a news release inviting written comments for 10 days and consider the input for possibly revising the draft.

The legislation doesn’t require the attorney general to use the comments, however. The bill doesn’t yet have a House sponsor.

MASK UPDATE: Three weeks into session, the Senate continues to require masks from non-legislators in its west wing of the Capitol and in its committee hearings. The House still encourages masks on its east wing and in its committee hearings, but there seems to be less adherence by lobbyists and other non-legislators as the days pass.

A recent anti-body test offered to legislators found some showed they had been infected by COVID-19 but didn’t know it. The halls of the third and fourth floors definitely aren’t as crowded this year. State Highway Patrol and security personnel don’t seem to be wearing masks during their rounds.

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