DiSanto wants higher age when prostitution is crime

PIERRE -- South Dakota makes prostitution a misdemeanor crime when people engage in selling sex at age 16. A state lawmaker from Pennington County wants 18 as the minimum.

SD state capitol2.jpg
(Daily Republic file photo)

PIERRE - South Dakota makes prostitution a misdemeanor crime when people engage in selling sex at age 16. A state lawmaker from Pennington County wants 18 as the minimum.

Rep. Lynne DiSanto, R-Rapid City, is prime sponsor of HB 1138. It was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. The panel hasn't yet publicly scheduled its hearing.

Lead Senate sponsor is Stace Nelson, R-Fulton. The bill comes amid more emphasis during the past decade against human trafficking in South Dakota.

A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Teacher pay


Two days of appeals last year from school districts to the state School Finance Accountability Board over teacher salary increases led to two pieces of legislation this year.

One provision of HB 1128 would extend the violation penalty indefinitely rather than end after 2021. The penalty already is taking back 50 percent of the additional state aid that went to the district.

Another part of 1128 says the determination whether a school district gave sufficient raises to teachers should be based on 85 percent of the state aid a district actually received.

The bill was assigned to the Joint Committee on Appropriations.

Prime sponsor of 1128 is Rep. Dan Ahlers, D-Dell Rapids. Lead Senate sponsor is Terri Haverly, R-Rapid City. Both lawmakers serve on the appropriations panel.

Losing students

HB 1135 would give school districts the option of using average enrollments for two years rather than one.

Officials from several smaller districts told the state board that declining enrollment was a reason they came up short of reaching teacher-pay targets.


Rep. Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell, is prime sponsor for 1135. The lead Senate sponsor is Sen. Joshua Klumb, R-Mount Vernon.

Their bill also went to the appropriations panel. Hearing dates haven't yet been publicly set for either bill.

Newspaper laws

State laws require county and municipal governments and school districts to designate official newspapers in their areas and publish the meeting minutes. Two proposals from Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland, would change those requirements.

HB 1141 and HB 1142 would allow governments to use their websites to publish the minutes instead.

The governments would be required to provide copies of minutes to local newspapers. But whether to publish the minutes would be a decision for the paper's management, and publication would be at the expense of the paper rather than the government.

The Senate sponsors are Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre, on 1141; and Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings, on 1142.

One provision in the proposals calls for the government to keep the minutes as long as required by state rule. Newspapers have been South Dakota institutions since before statehood.


News changes

But two developments in 2017 added weight on the side of the governments in the years-long dispute over switching to websites and stop using newspapers.

Several daily newspapers in South Dakota failed to publish public notices of rules hearings planned by state government bodies. State law requires the notices. The hearings had to be rescheduled.

The Legislature's Rules Review Committee in turn became aware of the problem.

Later in 2017, the Iowa-based company that owns the daily Rapid City Journal closed its weekly newspapers in Sturgis and Belle Fourche and gave minimal warning about the shutdowns.


Both of Brunner's bills rely on public access to the internet as the replacement for newspapers.

HB 1141 applies to municipalities with populations of less than 1,000 and to school districts with enrollments less than 600.

That covers all small-sized communities throughout South Dakota and many mid-sized.

The 1,000 dividing point would mean, for example, that Parker, Tyndall, Martin, De Smet and Baltic would still need to have official newspapers. But Wessington Springs, Ipswich, Hill City, Whitewood and Arlington could switch to websites.

Those five are in the 900s, according to recent estimates. There are seven in the 800s, 13 in the 700s, 15 in the 600s, 12 in the 500s, 23 in the 400s, 14 in the 300s, 29 in the 200s, 54 in the 100s and 68 between 10 and 100.

The population estimates show 11 cities with populations of more than 10,000. There are 13 cities with populations of 3,000 to 10,000 and 11 cities in the 2,000s. Another 28 have populations estimated between 1,000 and 2,000.

Meanwhile 1142 applies to all counties, municipalities and school districts.

It sets 40 percent circulation of the official newspaper as the threshold for whether a government can designate its website as the official place for publication rather than the newspaper.

Both bills provide that any document required by state law to be published could be placed on the Internet instead if the community meets the population or circulation threshold.

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