State senators approved legislation Monday allowing South Dakota’s public universities to develop programs to increase enrollment and improve retention of Native Americans who are members of the nine federally recognized tribes in South Dakota.
SB 140 would require the state Board of Regents to provide annual reports to the Legislature starting July 1, 2020, on the campuses’ efforts. The legislation allows the regents to explore tuition assistance or waivers.
The vote was 32-0. The bill initially failed in the House 30-35, but it was revived so the regent-reporting requirement could be added. House members then passed it on the second try 52-12.
The Senate originally had passed it 34-0. Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert of Mission is prime sponsor. He is a Rosebud Sioux member.
“They don’t change the intent of the bill. I think it’s a good way to have the Board of Regents do what the bill originally tried to accomplish,” Heinert said.