DRA Weekly Legislative Update

Dakota Rural Action Weekly Legislative Update

A big blizzard Monday & Tuesday closed roads into and out of Pierre. Despite huge snow piles, parking was easy to find—state employees had back-to-back snow days while legislators were at the Capitol plowing through the last of the bills.

The 2018 Legislative Session wraps up this week, with bills and resolutions attempting their final hurdle through committees on Monday and their second floor vote on Tuesday. Those bills that saw amendments outside their house of origin then went to conference committees for concurrence (or discussion and changes) on those amendments. All bills that have made it through the process then go to the Governor’s desk for signing, with March 26th reserved for the legislature to consider any gubernatorial vetoes.

Dakota Rural Action and other groups are pushing for vetoes on two initiative & referendum bills that passed in the final week. House Bill 1177 forces petition circulators to provide personal information to those who sign petitions they are carrying. This is in addition to the contact information required for petition sponsors. We pushed for, and were successful in, amending this bill to remove the petition circulator’s home address from the info provided, but we maintain that it is an invasion of privacy to require circulators to provide their phone number and email address to every person they meet in the course of doing their job (whether paid or volunteer).

House Bill 1196 requires petition circulators to file a laundry list of personal information with the Secretary of State’s office in order to prove their South Dakota residency. Despite the fact that courts in other states have found that imposing residency requirements for petition circulators to be unconstitutional, that law still remains on our books.

The purpose of HB 1196’s further requirements is (according to the bill’s prime sponsor) specifically to make it easier to challenge initiative petitions in court. This means that those opposed to the process, or to the goals of a specific initiative, will have their research work done in advance for them by the initiative’s supporters.

Additionally, the legislation calls for a fine of up to $5000 and a four-year moratorium for anyone found to have broken circulation rules. The four year ban is also likely unconstitutional, but the purpose is clear: people and organizations who continue to bring grassroots legislation that the legislature itself is unlikely to consider will have targets on their backs. Those who oppose Direct Democracy will use this tool to attempt knock them out of circulation.

Contact Governor Daugaard and ask him to VETO HB 1177 and HB 1196!

Call the Governor’s office at (605) 773-3212 or use the email contact form at: http://sd.gov/governor/contact/contact.aspx.

Potential Summer Study Issues for Ag & Natural Resources–Brands & Trust Lands

Two bills this session dealt with Brand Board fees and inspections. Senate Bill 29 cames as a request from the Department of Agriculture and increased brand fees and established an expedited brand registration fee. There was an amendment on the House side to lessen the increase in fees, but the Senate has not concurred with those changes, so a conference committee has been appointed, and the final fee amounts are yet to be determined.

Senate Bill 156 allows for the Brand Board to work outside the Ownership Inspection Area (West River) by request, and sets fees for that process to happen. This comes on the heels of a number of cattle thefts East River and a desire to clarify that brand registrations and inspections may be needed to curb these issues.

The conversations surrounding these bills led a number of the members of House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to propose a summer study to look at all aspects of the Brand Board in the state and determine if further legislation may be of value in addressing issues. Another potential summer study topic was suggested around trust lands in various counties, the lack of property tax revenue from these lands, and if the federal government might be called on the provide some tax relief in these cases.

Legislative Wrap Up Around the Corner

With the legislative session coming to a close, DRA’s Legislative Committee has met for its final “regular season” discussion of the year. We’ll be doing a recap of the session’s big issues in our Legislative Wrap-Up–members should look for it in their mailboxes next month!

A big THANK YOU to all our members (and others!) who called, emailed, and showed up to testify on behalf of our issues. This was a banner year for member engagement on the issues, and while we didn’t win ‘em all, we killed some bad bills, helped pass some good ones, and pushed amendments to take the sharpest teeth out of a few real doozies.

We couldn’t do it without member leaders like YOU!

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