It's been a slow session, but area legislators say they don't mind.
During a District 20 cracker barrel at Mitchell City Hall on Friday, the three state legislators representing Aurora, Davison and Jerauld counties agree that the 2018 South Dakota legislative session has moved along at a mellow pace. But state Rep. Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell, expects the session to heat up soon.
One of the items that will certainly be a topic of conversation in the coming weeks is a resolution to the non-meandered waters issue.
Last summer, legislators gathered for a special session to authorize a bill governing the use of lakes over private land for recreation. An agreement was approved that restored access to approximately 30 bodies of water which were closed by South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks following a state Supreme Court ruling that called for the Legislature to decide how the non-meandered lakes could be used.
The law re-opened the lakes, but allowed property owners to install signs or buoys blocking access to their land. The bill runs through June 2018.
Unprovoked by around 25 people in attendance Friday, the legislators addressed the issue. And state Sen. Joshua Klumb, R-Mount Vernon, told attendees not to expect a resolution until late in the session. He speculated it might be the last bill considered before the budget.
"I think we'll see better deals with Game, Fish & Parks if we had see some certainty in this law," Klumb said. "A lot of landowners are hesitant to sign a contract with Game, Fish & Parks when we're playing football with the law."
Rep. Lance Carson, R-Mitchell, said the resolution won't likely look like either bill currently on the table.
"Be patient," Carson said. "You'll see something different than what we've got now."
The current House plan would simply strike the sunset clause, allowing the decision approved last summer to remain in effect. The Senate plan is similar, extending the sunset clause to 2021.
Texting while driving
The legislators were also met with a question from Mitchell resident Jessica Pickett, who asked for the trio's thoughts on House Bill 1230.
HB 1230, which Rozum co-sponsors, would make texting on a cellphone while driving a primary offense rather than a secondary action when someone's already been pulled over by law enforcement. It would also make the offense a Class 2 misdemeanor instead of a petty offense.
"Sometimes you have to bend to do the things you don't want to do to get a bill through, and that's what happened with the secondary offense," Rozum said about why the current laws are in effect and the secondary offense was settled upon initially.
Another bill, HB 1229, would make enforcement of seat belt laws a primary offense.
By the next cracker barrel, many of the issues mentioned Friday could be resolved. Also mentioned were bills to establish a fund for an East River veterans cemetery, funding for community support providers and a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21.
A second cracker barrel is scheduled on March 2 in Mitchell.