Senator: Spreading hepatitis C should be classified as a felony

PIERRE -- A state lawmaker wants to make intentionally exposing another human being to hepatitis C infection a felony crime in South Dakota. He also wants to increase the criminal penalty for intentionally exposing another person to venereal dise...

SD state capitol2.jpg
(Daily Republic file photo)

PIERRE - A state lawmaker wants to make intentionally exposing another human being to hepatitis C infection a felony crime in South Dakota.

He also wants to increase the criminal penalty for intentionally exposing another person to venereal diseases. Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, proposed the changes.

Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, sent SB 93 to the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday. A hearing date hasn't been scheduled.

Nelson wants intentional exposure to hepatitis C infection to be a Class 3 felony punishable up to 15 years in the state penitentiary and a $30,000 fine.

The judge or jury would need to determine there a "significant risk" was presented.


Among the circumstances would be transferring, donating or providing blood, tissue, organs or other infectious body parts or fluids.

Causing hepatitis C-infected blood to come into contact with another person also would be covered.

The other change would strengthen the penalty for intentional exposure of syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid to a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Those crimes currently are a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Back to the Senate

Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory, said Monday she would be a candidate for the district's Senate seat this year.

Senate Democratic Billie Sutton, of Burke, is running for governor.

Bartling, 59, has served in both chambers of the Legislature.


She was twice elected to the House for the 2001 and 2003 terms, then won election to the Senate for the 2005, 2007 and 2009 terms.

Bartling ran as the Democratic nominee for state treasurer in 2010 and lost against Republican Steve Barnett.

She won election to the House again for the 2013, 2015 and 2017 terms.

House to Senate

Likewise seeking election to the Senate is Rep. Susan Wismer, D-Britton.

She hopes to succeed Sen. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot.

Wismer announced her plan in a Facebook post Monday morning.

She has served in the House from 2009 through 2014 and again for 2017-2018.


Wismer defeated Joe Lowe for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014. She lost to Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard in the general election that November.

Good move

Meanwhile the House State Affairs Committee recommended HB 1100 on a 12-0 vote Monday. Wismer's bill would require a state contract show the typed name of the person signing it.

Signatures alone often aren't legible.

The House of Representatives could take it up Tuesday afternoon. The measure has bipartisan support. The lead Senate sponsor is Sutton.

Frerichs ends

Frerichs has won four consecutive elections to the Senate and therefore is subject to the Legislature's terms limit.

Frerichs said he doesn't plan to run for the state House.

"I will help the Sutton campaign and hope to run statewide someday," Frerichs said.

He added: "Taking care of my family and the farm/ranch are my short-term plans."

Road revisions

The chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee has a massive set of revisions proposed for South Dakota's laws on county and state highways and bridges.

Rep. Mary Duvall, R-Pierre, introduced it Friday.

On first glance most of HB 1107 looks like its updating archaic language or repealing outdated statutes.

There are Republicans and Democrats from both chambers on the sponsors list.

The lead sponsor in the second chamber is Sen. Ernie Otten, R-Tea. He chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

House Speaker Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, referred the measure to the House committee Duvall heads.

Big and wide

Duvall's bill has 64 sections.

It actually covers much more ground, with many repeals contained within.

Some are simple. One section for example would remove the phrase "cartways."

Another section proposes modernizing width measurements, changing distances from rods to feet.

There's even a repeal sought for private roads needing county commission approval.

More opportunity

South Dakota students in home schools and other alternative settings would be eligible for state-funded Opportunity scholarships under a proposal by Sen. Jack Kolbeck, R-Sioux Falls.

The Senate Education Committee scheduled a hearing Wednesday morning for SB 94.

Limiting regents

Sen. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, seeks a restriction on the number of terms a person can serve on the state Board of Regents.

SB 80 calls for a maximum of two six-year terms for a regent appointed after July 1. A former regent could be eligible to serve again after sitting out two years.

The regents govern South Dakota's public universities and special schools.

Limiting K-12 terms

Bolin also wants to restrict the time a person can serve on the state Board of Education Standards that oversees South Dakota's K-12 schools.

SB 89 calls for a maximum of three four-year terms for a person appointed after July 1. A past board member could serve again after sitting out two years.

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