VEHLE: Teen driving bills aim at alarming statisticsSupport withdrawn from coyote spotlight legislation.
By: Mike Vehle , Guest columnist
Last week was busy. In the Transportation Committee, we heard the four bills from the Teen Safe Driving Task Force. South Dakota has one of the worst teenage traffic fatality statistics in the nation. These bills are an attempt to reduce this loss of precious young life.
The first bill, SB 105, dealt with lengthening the time of the learner’s permit. It would now go to one year with three months credit if you passed the driver’s education course, then it becomes nine months.
Because of the winter driving conditions, it was felt that nine months would cover most of South Dakota’s driving conditions.
The second bill, SB 106, would ban any use of a wireless communications device for those that had either a learner’s permit or a restricted minor’s permit.
The first couple of years are the most dangerous for beginning drivers no matter what age they start, and being distracted just greatly increases the chance for accidents.
The third bill, SB 107, restricted the number of non-family member passengers to one person, unless it is to attend school or a school function for those driving with a restricted minor’s permit (formerly known to many of us as a restricted work or school permit obtained before you turned 16 to obtain an operator’s license).
The fourth bill, SB 216, reinstituted the statewide standardized driver education program, which had been discontinued several years ago.
All four bills passed both the Senate Transportation Committee and the full Senate. They are now are assigned to a House Committee for consideration.
Township section lines
A bill dealing with township section lines that I sponsored was also heard in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Basically it allows a new designation for township section lines — No Maintenance. Currently we have a designation of Low Maintenance, but not one for NO Maintenance. Without this designation availability, townships might decide to vacate several section line rights of way, and that may not be in everyone’s best interest. These No Maintenance section lines will have to be posted as No Maintenance at both ends of the area. SB 151 unanimously passed the Senate Transportation Committee.
Another interesting bill, SB 152, that will not make headlines, was one which I co-sponsored with Sen. Jason Frerichs to allow spotlight shooting of coyotes by people other than the landowner.
Knowing of the growing coyote problem, I initially thought this was a good idea. However, I did not realize at the time I agreed to co-sponsor that it also increased the caliber of guns used to take coyotes at night. Currently, landowners on their own land or accompanied by another person can take coyotes using a spotlight with a shotgun or a .22 caliber rifle. This bill, SB 152, would have allowed non-landowners with permission or hunters on public land or walk-in hunting areas to take coyotes. It also would have allowed any rifle.
My deer rifle shoots a bullet approximately 3 miles and the range of a spotlight is less than a mile. That is a long distance for a bullet to travel without knowing where it will go in the dark, whether it is cattle, machinery, buildings, bins or homes that may be in its path.
I told Sen. Frerichs that unless we change the caliber of rifle, I could not continue to support his bill. My amendment to change the caliber failed and then the bill was also defeated.
Sometimes a bill may seem OK on the surface, but when you dig into it, it has problems.
There is a cracker barrel Saturday in Plankinton and one Monday in Wessington Springs. See you there.
Mike Vehle, a Republican from Mitchell, represents District 20 (Davison, Aurora and Jerauld counties) in the South Dakota Senate.