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SD House OKs creating task force to study tribal economic development

PIERRE — By a 68-0 vote that had members staring in wonder at the tally board, the state House of Representatives approved legislation that would create a task force on tribal economic development Tuesday.

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The issue hasn’t been specifi cally studied since the 1970s, when Dick Kneip was governor, according to Rep. Don Haggar, R-Sioux Falls.

He is prime sponsor of HB 1213, which now goes to the Senate.

Task force members would include the president or chairman from each of the nine tribal governments in South Dakota or their designees.

Four current or past members of the Legislature’s state-tribal relations committee also would have seats, as would the state secretary of tribal relations and five other people chosen by the Legislature’s executive board.

The task force would operate under the oversight of the executive board and be funded from the Legislature’s budget.

An interim report would be due no later than Dec. 1 and a final report, recommendations and proposed legislation no later than Dec. 1, 2015.

Haggar’s bill also broadens eligibility to include tribal governments in several state economic development programs.

Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle, said there are many tribal and federal regulations that restrict economic opportunities on Indian reservations.

She praised Haggar for the bill and said the federal government is responsible for their “ruination.”

“You have to remember, you’re dealing with like nine different countries,” May said.