Governor Gets $1 Million For S.D. Wildlife Habitat

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KELO Kristi Noem 4

State lawmakers decided Tuesday to ban commercial-fee hunting establishments from any program that South Dakota’s new Second Century Habitat Fund for wildlife supports.

The House-Senate conference committee headed by Representative John Mills of Volga and Senator Justin Cronin of Gettysburg reached unanimous agreement on that point.

It came right after the six-member panel decided 4-2 the new fund should be restored to the $1 million Governor Kristi Noem had originally requested.

SB 176 then passed 24-6 in the Senate and 48-14 in the House to be sent to Noem’s desk.

The legislation still contains her original language that the money must be matched dollar for dollar by private contributions and donations, or in combination with federal conservation programs or grants.

It also could be used as part of a any larger collaborative effort where the fund is a partner and it’s administered by the fund’s board.

The governor wanted $1 million but for a long time lawmakers looked like they would give a lot less — and for two days, while it was in the House, nothing at all.

The legislation’s trip began turning strange February 27 in the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations. The lawmakers downsized the request to $500,000 through an amendment from Senator Jeff Partridge, a Rapid City Republican.

House members however couldn’t pass it March 5 at $500,001. Two days later, House members revived but took the amount all the way down to $1 — yes, one dollar — and sent it back to the Senate.

From there it went to the Mills-Cronin conference committee.

Those six then restored the amount to the original $1 million the governor wanted but then put the commercial ban in place.

Noem earlier in her career ran a hunting lodge her family owned.

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