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House gets a second look at feedlot zoning changes

PIERRE--The state House of Representatives on Monday will consider again whether to approve changes in the process used by counties for deciding livestock feedlot permits.

PIERRE-The state House of Representatives on Monday will consider again whether to approve changes in the process used by counties for deciding livestock feedlot permits.

Supporters of the legislation claim it's necessary to stop round after round of appeals on the same application.

Opponents argue it's an attempt to limit action against a permit application.

So far, the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, is winning on a matter that has split South Dakota agriculture organizations.

But Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, has also made several rounds of concessions to keep the legislation moving forward.

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His latest was dropping a proposed $250 bond for a person to file an appeal.

The House initially approved the legislation, HB 1140, on a 51-18 vote Feb. 16. He came back with amendments at a Senate committee hearing on Feb. 29.

The full Senate voted 20-14 Wednesday. To help ease its passage, Sen. Larry Tidemann distributed a nine-point summary to fellow members.

The changes would define the grounds for appeals and would set a standard that a person seeking to appeal has to show he or she would be aggrieved, according to Tidemann, R-Brookings.

If multiple appeals were filed on the same permit, the legislation calls for them to be consolidated into one action,

Sen. Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton, tried to gut Mickelson's bill and make just two small changes.

"It's going to stifle opportunities," Hunhoff argued about Mickelson's version. "The system is working in most counties, almost all counties."

Hunhoff lost on a voice vote that, nonetheless, indicated he had support from senators in both parties.

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That led Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton, of Burke, to call for the legislation to be rejected altogether.

"I think we need to be very careful in how we proceed on this matter," Sutton said.

The House will take up the legislation as one of its first acts Monday. The decision will be whether to agree with the Senate version or open negotiations in a House-Senate conference committee.

During the Senate hearing, Mickelson said he became interested in the situation because so much feed and so many livestock are shipped out of South Dakota.

South Dakota's economy could benefit if more livestock were fed here with what's grown here, he said.

Mickelson said that's why he worked to change the state law last year, so county boards can now make permit decisions with a simple majority, rather than a two-thirds majority.

He said his intention this year is to allow the process to move more quickly to a decision, by eliminating some of the minor technical reasons for appeals and putting the valid appeals on the same permit into a single proceeding.

Eliminating the $250 bond for an appeal and straightening out a typographical mistake satisfied the concerns Senate Republican leader Corey Brown, of Gettysburg, said he previously had.

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"It looks to me like an attempt to streamline that process," Brown said.

Among the groups opposing the legislation are Dakota Rural Action and South Dakota Farmers Union.

Supporting it are the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners, the South Dakota Municipal League, the state Department of Agriculture, the South Dakota Farm Bureau, the agricultural cooperatives association and the cattlemen's, pork producers and soybean organizations.

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