Weekly Legislative Update

Dakota Rural Action Weekly Legislative Update

We’re closing in on the final stretch of session, which means it’s more important than ever to pay attention to what’s happening in Pierre. “Shell” bills that were previously empty of content are being filled with potentially concerning legislation, and bad bills introduced at the last minute are being scheduled in rapid succession. Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail your legislators to voice your concerns. Remember, they work for you!

If you are interested in coming to the Capitol to testify–even if you have never done so before–please feel free to contact me. Dakota Rural Action is a member-led organization, and our staff is ready and willing to help with logistics of developing testimony, finding your committee meeting room, and even securing accommodations for an overnight stay if needed. Your voice is needed now more than ever.

Best,

Rebecca Terk
DRA Lobbyist in Pierre
(605) 697-5204 x260

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DRA members Kathy Tyler (right) and Kristi Mogen traveled to Pierre this week to testify against HB 1187, which undermines citizens’ right to appeal Conditional Use Permit (CUP) decisions by local Boards of Adjustment.

DANGER! HB 1187 HAS ALREADY PASSED THROUGH ITS FIRST COMMITTEE

This bill is an attempt to undermine citizens’ right to appeal a Conditional Use Permit decision by their local Board of Adjustment. This should be especially concerning to those fighting CAFO expansions in their communities. It is being pitched by sponsor Rep. Jason Kettwig (R-Milbank) as a “local control” friendly bill because it keeps virtually ALL authority to make final CUP decisions with Boards of Adjustment–and CUTS OUT virtually all pathways to appeal by citizens.

Yesterday in House Local Government Committee, Dakota Rural Action member and former State Legislator Kathy Tyler testified that “Citizens want a voice in how their neighborhoods are run; this bill puts the final nail in the coffin of that voice.” Also testifying in opposition were DRA member Kristi Mogen and lobbyist Rebecca Terk. Nevertheless, the bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote. WE NEED MANY MORE VOICES OPPOSING THIS BILL.

SB 135SD Stockgrowers’ Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) bill for beef passed Senate State Affairs with strong proponent testimony from producers, Dakota Rural Action, Farmers Union, SD Stockgrowers, and others. The bill was amended in committee to reduce the penalty for a retailer’s non-compliance from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.

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SD Stockgrowers Executive Director (and former DRA lobbyist!) Silvia Christen chats with producers following passage of SB 135–the Country of Origin Labeling bill–through Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

HB 1204 This bill allows for the set-up of a pilot program for the production and sale of industrial hemp along the lines of a similar program set up in North Dakota last year. Proponent testimony was given by the sponsor, Rep. Liz May (R-Kyle) and Dakota Rural Action. Opponents included Law Enforcement, the Sheriff’s Association, and the Department of Agriculture, which would be responsible for running the program. Despite that opposition, House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee members, noting the current price of corn and the need for more diverse commodity opportunities, supported the bill on a 9-2 vote and sent it to the House floor for what is likely to be a lively discussion there.

Dakota Rural Action has been following and supporting the Riparian Buffer Strip Incentive Program Bill (SB 66) as it makes its way through the process. It has already passed through the Senate Ag Committee and the Senate floor, and yesterday passed the House Taxation Committee on its way to its final vote on the House floor, where it is likely to succeed and be signed into law.

SB 136The Certified Professional Midwife licensure bill brought by SD Birth Matters. Because it sets up a new board and licensing process, it needed ⅔ vote–which it got on the Senate floor this week. Now it goes to the House Health & Human Services Committee, but is not yet scheduled as of Friday. 2/17.

SB 114 is the Spearfish Canyon Land Swap bill that comes with a $2.5 million pricetag for the acquisition of lands from the U.S. Forest Service as well as an emergency clause that prohibits referral by voters. This bill was strongly opposed by Black Hills residents, and by DRA’s Black Hills Chapter. It was tabled in Joint Appropriations this week and by all reports is unlikely to be brought back this session.

SB 176 started out as a “shell” or empty bill entitled, ”Accommodate Legislation Relating to the Protection of Public Safety.” An article posted late yesterday in the Argus Leader has alerted us to an amendment proving that this is a move to enhance the governor’s powers to declare a “public safety zone” during protests wherein protesters could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they cross into the created “public safety zone”–and is specifically targeted against the potential for protests against the KXL pipeline. It will be heard on Wednesday in Senate State Affairs.

HB 1188–Another shell bill about accommodating “legislation to promote agricultural development.” Based on the sponsors, this bill is also concerning. We are watching it, and it will be heard in House Appropriations on Tuesday.

Thank you for your support during this legislative session.
Our ability to keep a full-time lobbyist in Pierre is 100% funded by member donations.
Please consider making a contribution to our legislative fund today!

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