Weekly Legislative Update



Rep. Oren Lesmeister (D-Parade) testifies on the House floor in favor of the Industrial Hemp Production & Processing Bill


Yesterday was crossover day–the day on which all bills must be heard on the floor of their house of origin. That makes for a long day, and possibly even a groove in the hall carpet between House and Senate Galleries as lobbyists run back and forth, tracking the progress of each chamber’s lengthy calendar and firing off final messages of encouragement or opposition.

We want to emphasize again how much your calls and e-mails can turn the tide. Following yesterday morning’s Action Alert, the blitz of phone messages opposing two bills allowed us to kill one bill in the House and strip the emergency clause (which denies voter referral) from a very bad Senate bill. Thank you!

HB1187–Dakota Rural Action members worked hard to oppose this bill in committee last week, and yesterday’s calls sealed the deal on the House floor. The thrust of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Kettwig (R-Milbank), was to undermine citizens’ right to appeal Conditional Use Permit applications in all but the most egregious cases of fraud or negligence. During floor debate, one representative remarked that he hadn’t gotten many e-mails on this bill, but he sure received a lot of phone messages that morning from constituents opposing it, and for that reason, he could not vote for it. Immediately following the failed vote, Speaker Mickelson (R-Sioux Falls) called for reconsideration. It came up again at the end of the calendar; it failed again (by one vote), and Rep. Mickelson stated that legislators will be seeing this again next year.

HB1188–This was last-minute hoghouse bill that tied state funding of county and municipal projects (including road and bridge repairs!) to their prioritizing value-added agricultural development projects in their planning process. While DRA supports value added agricultural development that benefits family farmers and ranchers, the clear objective here was to force communities to plan for CAFOs and large-scale processing facilities. The bill encountered strong opposition from the Dept. of Transportation in committee, but made it through Appropriations with half-hearted support. It then died on the House floor yesterday evening.



Unfortunately, the “fools” prevailed…


SB135–SD Stockgrowers’ Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) bill was hard fought and strongly supported by organizations like Dakota Rural Action and Farmers Union, as well as many cattle producers across the state.  However, the Chamber of Commerce, Retailers Association, Pork Producers, and Farm Bureau undermined that effort on the Senate floor, and the legislation failed there this week. Click here to find out how your legislators voted.

SB176–the Governor’s last-minute bill to give himself power to create “Public Safety Zones” of any size anywhere in the state encountered vigorous debate on the Senate floor. Opponents strongly discouraged this likely unconstitutional overreach of executive authority which, based on various news reports quoting the Governor’s own staff, was developed in response to tribes’ and landowners’ protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the use of eminent domain for private gain. The bill, which contained an emergency clause (blocking voter referral) failed to gain the ⅔ support the emergency clause necessitates in its first vote. However, Senate rules dictate that because the bill did have a simple majority of the vote, it was due immediate reconsideration. Assistant Majority Leader Ryan Maher (R-Isabel) offered an amendment to remove the emergency clause, and the bill passed. It will now proceed to House State Affairs Committee. (Click here to see how Senators voted.)

The Industrial Hemp Production and Processing bill (HB1204) finally cleared its first chamber after a five years of attempts. Dakota Rural Action testified in favor of this bill in House Ag & Natural Resources Committee, and it passed there with strong bipartisan support. Rep. Oren Lesmeister (D-Parade) gave strong testimony on the House floor about provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill for state pilot programs for hemp production such as the one this bill creates, and it passed with the ⅔ vote required of legislation that sets up new state programs. It now crosses over to Senate committee.

Thank you again for all your calls, e-mails, and support this week!

We could not do this work without our many dedicated members.

Please consider making a contribution to our legislative fund, which allows us to continue to have a presence in Pierre, fighting for you!


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