House Agrees To Legalize Industrial Hemp, Sends Bill To South Dakota Governor

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Legislation that would make industrial hemp legal in South Dakota is heading to Governor Kristi Noem.

The question now is whether she will veto it or have it become state law.

The Republican governor has repeatedly opposed HB 1191 during its journey through the Legislature.

The state House of Representatives voted 58-8 Monday afternoon to accept the version the Senate passed last week.

The only lawmaker to speak was Representative Oren Lesmeister. The Parade Democrat is prime sponsor.

He said the big change the Senate made was to put the licensing fees into state government’s general fund.

“By doing that, each department then can come back and reclaim any expenses that they incur in the industrial hemp program,” Lesmeister said.

The House originally had passed the bill 65-2.

The Senate however needed two tries. It failed the first on a 21-14 vote after Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden ruled before the roll call that a two-thirds majority of 24 was needed.

Senator Jordan Youngberg, a Madison Republican, used a procedural maneuver to take a second run. Youngberg put on the general-fund amendment so the bill needed only 18 votes. It passed again 21-14.

If Noem vetoes it, the House would need a two-thirds majority of 47 to override while the Senate would need a two-thirds of 24.

Senators who voted against it last week found boxes of Dots candy on their desks Thursday accompanied by hand-written notes from Noem that said, “Thanks for sticking with me.”

Noem wants the Legislature to wait until 2020 to consider legalizing it.

She said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told her during a recent visit to Washington, D.C., that his department won’t have industrial hemp rules done until November.

The 2018 federal Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp nationwide. Noem, who was South Dakota’s U.S. House member at the time, voted for the Farm Bill.

She told reporters last month that legalizing industrial hemp would lead to a push to legalize marijuana, which she opposes.

Youngberg said afterward the Wyoming Legislature passed its industrial hemp bill Friday.

“South Dakota is on an island here,” Youngberg said. He added, “The people in South Dakota want the opportunity to start discovering this market. I hope she (the governor) give us that opportunity.”
 

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