PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — On the final weekday before lawmakers return to Pierre for Veto Day, Governor Kristi Noem announced three new vetoes.
In a news release, Noem said she was not signing two House Bills regarding spending authority (HB 1281) and pregnant minors (HB 1223) as well as Senate Bill 151 regarding marijuana impacts on a person’s criminal record.
Overriding a governor’s veto requires two-thirds majorities in both chambers: At least 47 in the House and at least 24 in the Senate.
HB 1281, which would require some state departments to set federal COVID-related relief funds into special accounts and require review by the Joint Appropriations Committee before some of those funds were spent on new programs, also is a prime veto target. It passed the House 52-16 and the Senate 32-2, despite Noem’s strong opposition.
Noem’s letter against HB 1281 is three pages long. In short, she says the unique amount of federal aid being passed by Congress because of the COVID-19 pandemic should not change how the state has approached budgeting.
“I share many of your concerns with the billions of dollars in taxpayer money being thrown around by the federal government. I believe strongly that the state should use those funds to strengthen our economy for the long term,” Noem’s letter said.
“The bottom line is this: House Bill 1281 creates a complicated, at times duplicative, new process that makes it more difficult to understand and account for the operations of state government. In doing so, it places unnecessary burdens on legislators, LRC staff, ‘and agencies,” the letter said.
At the end of the letter, Noem offered a compromise to lawmakers saying she will direct “incoming Bureau of Finance and Management Commissioner Jim Terwilliger to establish a new protocol to communicate with the Legislature as any new COVID grants or relief funds are received.”
HB 1223, which would allow a pregnant minor to give consent for health care, provided the health care provider first makes an effort to obtain consent from the minor’s parent or guardian; or the minor’s parent or guardian is either unavailable or withholds consent. Its prime sponsor was Representative Erin Healy, D-Sioux Falls, and its lead Senate sponsor was Republican Blake Curd of Sioux Falls. The House passed it 37-33 and the Senate 30-5. The Noem administration didn’t take a public position at either hearing.
In her letter on HB 1223, Noem said she appreciates the drafters’ good inventions but added “there are flaws in the language of the bill that require a veto.”
“As originally drafted, the bill stated that a parent’s decisions about their child’s healthcare could be overridden if the parent unreasonably withheld consent for the child’s care. But that word was stricken from the bill by the time it reached my desk,” Noem’s letter states. “Under House Bill 1223, a parent could reasonably withhold their consent for a health procedure for their child, and the doctor could ignore the parent’s reasonable objection. What if the parent simply wants a second opinion? After all, doctors often disagree. House Bill 1223 would wrongfully allow a doctor to ignore the parent’s request for a second opinion for their child’s health care.”
Healy released a statement on her reaction to Noem’s veto.
“This bill was meant to protect pregnant minors from their absent or abusive parents. This bill ensures babies can be born healthy and puts the minor mother in touch with a caring adult sooner rather than later,” Healy said.
“I’m deeply disappointed that Governor Noem would rather prioritize controlling pregnant minors and their unborn babies. If Governor Noem cares so deeply about South Dakota babies, why would she veto a bill that facilitates healthier babies and moms? Why is she taking away their agency to have the healthiest pregnancy possible? It’s hard not to see this action as part of a larger-scale effort to punish pregnant minors,” Healy said.
SB 151 sponsored by Senator Michael Rohl, R-Aberdeen. It would allow automatic removal from a person’s criminal record after five years any case in which “all charges are petty offenses, municipal ordinance violations, Class 2 misdemeanors, and Class 1 misdemeanors for the use or possession of marijuana or any derivative of marijuana.” The legislation would also make other changes.
In her letter, Noem said the bill “essentially codifies a convicted person’s ability to be dishonest about their previous arrest and conviction by not requiring disclosure of the prior drug conviction.”
Noem said even with legal medical cannabis, there must “remain consequences for using illegal drugs at a time when the use and possession of marijuana, even for alleged medical purposes, was illegal.”
Sen. Rohl tweeted his reaction to Noem’s veto.
“This bill would have helped 30k+ people and could have had a positive economic impact of nearly $71 Million over just 2 years for the State. #ReeferMadness is alive & well,” the tweet read.
Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, also took to Twitter with an explanation why he backed it. “I supported this bill because I thought it made good sense. But to be clear, this is NOT what the voters voted for. It was not part of the ballot measure, but was introduced by a legislaotr (sic),” he wrote, referring to the 2020 vote that passed IM 26 legalizing medical marijuana.