Governor wants Legislature removed from process on county name changes

PIERRE -- The governor wants to streamline the process when voters decide to change a county's name, a state legislator said Monday. South Dakota law currently requires the governor to communicate a name change to the presiding officers of the Le...

PIERRE -- The governor wants to streamline the process when voters decide to change a county's name, a state legislator said Monday.

South Dakota law currently requires the governor to communicate a name change to the presiding officers of the Legislature and the Legislature then shall designate by joint resolution the new name.

The process will be followed next month, regarding the Nov. 4 decision by voters in Shannon County to adopt the new name Oglala Lakota County, according to Sen. Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge.

But, Bradford said, Gov. Dennis Daugaard supports asking the Legislature to rewrite the process for future instances.

Bradford, chairman of the Legislature's State-Tribal Affairs Committee, said he met with the governor on Monday morning.


Bradford told committee members that Daugaard would like to simplify the process so the Legislature wouldn't need to pass resolutions on county name changes.

The Legislature however would still need to approve a resolution regarding the change from Shannon County to Oglala Lakota County, Bradford said.

Tony Venhuizen, the governor's chief of staff, said Daugaard has conferred with Secretary of State-elect Shantel Krebs about the process.

Venhuizen said Krebs is considering the matter.

There will be a joint resolution that complies with the "shall designate" statutory requirement, Venhuizen said, and "a lengthy bill" that overstrikes Shannon and inserts Oglala Lakota throughout state law.

"Our office will be talking to legislators about how best to move those forward," Venhuizen said.

The legislative committee didn't endorse any measures Monday.

"The committee was not really designed to bring bills. It was designed to discuss issues," Bradford said. "We bring about those things and bring them to the forefront."


Rep. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, proposed the committee formally support the governor's recommended $1 million for a program that prepares high school students for jobs.

The vote was 5-1 among those participating in the meeting. The panel has 10 members, so a majority of six was necessary. The nay came from Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle. So Heinert's motion failed.

"We of course individually can do that," Bradford said.

He said that it's good for the committee to meet on the reservations but it's also good to meet at the Capitol because anyone can listen via the Internet or be in the room.

He called it "a giant step by the governor" to have a secretary of tribal relations at the Cabinet level.

Most of the meeting Monday featured reports from state and tribal officials.

Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, gave a presentation on the juvenile justice recommendations assembled by a task force of judges, legislators and local and state officials.

One proposal calls for using technology to provide expertise in rural areas similar to tele-health. A pilot program will be tried.


"We'll see how that goes," said Sutton, who was on the work group. "We have to realize we're a very rural state and need to do things differently."

Sutton said there would be "a pretty sweeping piece of legislation" that reflects the task force's recommendations.

"It's very needed and very timely," he said.

Roxanne Sazue, chairwoman for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, reported on the purpose of the tribal economic development task force that was created by the Legislature this year. She is its vice-chair.

"Our goal is to become self-sufficient. As leaders we cannot be afraid to ask for help," she said. "We have a lot of unmet needs, both state and tribal."

Sazue said she meets today (Tuesday) with state officials about getting transportation assistance to help people from her area travel to Pierre to work at the new Menards store.

"That's how progress is made," she said. "We're in the door now."

Sazue said she's met twice with Gov. Daugaard. She said "the Creator" and government leaders can do only so much.


"The people have to do their part, too," she said.

Steve Emery told the committee about his role as the Daugaard administration's new secretary of tribal relations.

Emery, who was appointed in October, said economic development, education and public safety are top areas for his attention.

"I'm fairly new. It's going to take a while to get my feet wet," he said.

Rep. Don Haggar, R-Sioux Falls, said there isn't legislation planned for 2015 from the tribal economic-development task force. He is its chairman and sponsored the legislation creating the economic development task force.

Haggar said the task force's next meeting would be scheduled for after the Legislature finishes the 2015 session March 30.

"I'm certainly willing to visit with you at length what the future is of the task force and any thoughts any of you may have regarding any way to make this successful. We're all very open," Haggar said.

"I think we've got a good start going and look forward to meeting with everybody," he added.


The committee also heard updates from Education Secretary Melody Schopp, Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti and state child-protection services director Virgena Wieseler.

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