S.D. House Makes Down Payment For Licensing Industrial Hemp

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There’s a showdown coming at the South Dakota Capitol over industrial hemp.

On one side is a united Legislature, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers so far marching together.

Trying to block their way is a new governor, who hasn’t yet said whether she’ll take out her veto pen in hope to stop them.

The state House of Representatives raised the stakes again Tuesday,

House members put $10,000 on the table to be used toward start-up costs for licensing industrial hemp production.

The Senate takes up the funding bill, HB 1212, likely next week.

Meanwhile the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources already has a hearing scheduled Thursday at 10 a.m. CST in the Capitol on the main bill lawmakers want.

HB 1191 would legalize growing and processing industrial hemp, and its derivatives, in South Dakota.

The House voted for it 65-2 two weeks ago.

Governor Kristi Noem warned before the vote, and then again afterward, that lawmakers shouldn’t start an industrial hemp program this year.

She told reporters at a news conference industrial hemp is a gateway to marijuana.

The Senate panel held up the 1191 hearing so the Legislative Research Council could prepare an estimate of potential costs.

That report hadn’t been posted as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

House members voted 58-11 earlier Tuesday afternoon for the $10,000 appropriation. That came after a 13-4 endorsement from the House-Senate Joint Appropriations Committee.

The only lawmaker who spoke about it on the House floor Tuesday was Representative Oren Lesmeister.

The Democratic rancher and farmer from the Parade area is prime sponsor of both hemp bills.

About the $10,000 measure, he said: “What this bill will do is allow the Department of Ag, if 1191 passes and is signed into law, it allows the Department of Ag to start the process to put together the licenses, information, so on and so forth, to be ready when people want to come in and start applying for licenses to grow industrialized seed.”

Lesmeister added, “This is a bill that if 1191 were to fail we could table it in the Senate side at the proper time.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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