PIERRE — Laws the South Dakota Legislature passed last year regulating public recreational uses of non-meandered waters that lay over privately owned lands should continue until July 1, 2021, the state Senate decided Tuesday. Senators voted 26-9 for the extension. The measure, SB 24, now goes to the House of Representatives. Without an extension, the laws expire this year on June 30. One of the yeses came from Sen. Jeff Partridge, R-Rapid City. When the Legislature met June 12 for the special session, Partridge insisted on the June 30, 2018, expiration.
PIERRE — More agricultural properties could be eligible for buffer strip tax breaks, and more farmers could be eligible for seats on the important South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission, under changes a panel of the Legislature recommended Tuesday. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted 9-0 for each proposal and placed them on the Senate consent schedule for action Wednesday afternoon.
PIERRE — State lawmakers who favor outlawing most abortions in South Dakota gained another small step Tuesday. The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 9-2 to endorse a measure that repeatedly criticizes Planned Parenthood. It also would establish further requirements for pregnant women to receive counseling before proceeding to abortions. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls is the only known general provider of abortions in South Dakota. SB 110 faces a final vote in the House of Representatives, possibly as early as Wednesday.
PIERRE — Rep. Drew Dennert felt the wrath of the South Dakota Republican Party's leadership Monday. An email sent in the morning led to death in the afternoon. The House of Representatives rejected his proposal to change how South Dakota primary elections run. The measure failed on a vote of 29 yes and 37 no. A majority of 36 was needed in the 70-seat chamber. Dennert, R-Aberdeen, wanted to allow a voter registered independent or no-party to participate in a party primary. His system would have let the voter designate the primary or stay neutral.
PIERRE — Township boards could use their current additional taxing capacity to pay emergency medical costs, while school boards could provide housing for certified teachers without paying property taxes, under measures that received final approval Monday by the South Dakota Senate. The legislation heads next to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for review and possibly his approvals. The Senate voted 34-1 for the townships bill, which Sen. Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids, emphasized was "permissive language."
PIERRE — An attempt failed Monday to give subpoena power to every committee of the Legislature created by a state law. Rep. Dan Kaiser, R-Aberdeen, proposed the change. It came after legislative auditors determined approximately $1.4 million couldn't be tracked from the bank account for Mid-Central Educational Cooperative in Platte. The money flowed from the U.S. Department of Education to the South Dakota Department of Education to Mid-Central. Mid-Central in turn gave several non-profit organizations access to its bank account.
PIERRE — Opponents said Monday too many older students could enroll in kindergarten if the Legislature approved changes Rep. Dan Kaiser suggested. The House Education Committee agreed, voting 9-3 to kill it. Kaiser, R-Aberdeen, said parents would have still been able to send their children to school at age 5. But a second piece of HB 1256 would have required a student couldn't be age 9 when starting kindergarten. Currently state law says a student can't be age 7.
PIERRE — A state lawmaker wanted the Legislature to require public schools to provide instruction on South Dakota's Indian history, culture and government. But the House Education Committee rejected the idea Monday after a state Department of Education official spoke against it. The panel voted 8-4 to kill HB 1253. Deputy Secretary Mary Stadick Smith reminded the panel of the fable where the tortoise beat the hare. She asked the panel to let the department go forward "slowly but surely."
PIERRE — This legislative session has a different feel. Republican 'outsiders' are moving into power. Some of their themes: Even-tighter spending by state government, less government regulation and more transparency. You can see it easiest in the Senate. Republicans won 29 seats in the 2016 elections. Democrats took six. The Republican imbalance also produced factions.
PIERRE — A legislative resolution calling for "thoughtful taxation" of alcohol products in South Dakota ran into stiff opposition Thursday from some state lawmakers. The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 8-3 against adopting it. HCR 1007 called "for alcohol to become budget neutral rather than a drain on the resources and the economy of South Dakota." The resolution came from the South Dakota Alcohol Policy Alliance.