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!


ACTION ALERT: Call for Initiative Bill VETO Today!

Two Bad Initiative Bills–One Call–Contact the Governor for a Veto

In the waning days of the session, legislators passed two onerous bills undermining the initiative process. Call Governor Daugaard’s office at (605) 773-3212 or email at the following link: http://sd.gov/governor/contact/contact.aspx and ask him to VETO HB 1177 & 1196!!!

HB 1177 is a clear violation of privacy. It requires petition circulators to provide personal information (name, email, telephone) to complete strangers while gathering signatures. Petition sponsors are already required to provide contact info–circulators (especially volunteers) should not be forced to share their information with people they don’t know.

HB 1196 requires petition circulators to provide a laundry list of personal information to the Secretary of State’s office to “prove” their residency, though the bill specifically indicates that none of the items on the list are actually determinative of residency. It also adds a penalty for violating provisions of circulation of up to a $5000 fine and being barred from doing any work on any ballot question committee for four years.

These bills are designed to chill the initiative process and allow opponents of the process or of particular measures to block participation from individuals and institutions they disagree with.

Contact Governor Daugaard for a veto today!

ACTION ALERT: Final Days–Initiative Bills Still In Play

Initiative & Referendum Bills Still In Play–Call or Write Senators Today

This is the final week of the legislative session, and several Initiative & Referendum Bills are still in play. Of greatest concern are House Bills 1177 and 1196–both of which deal with extra hoops to jump through for petition circulators. HB 1304 is specifically about making it easier to challenge petition signatures.

All three of these bills have been amended, but they still set a bad precedent–they’re basically all just attempts to make it easier for those who dislike the process (or particular initiatives) to challenge or undermine the initiative process after petitions are gathered and the Secretary of State has certified an initiative for the ballot.

HB 1177 & HB 1304 will be debated on the Senate Floor on Monday, March 5th.
HB 1196 will be debated on the Senate Floor on Tuesday, March 6th.

Tell Your Senators to Stop Meddling with Direct Democracy!
Vote NO on these bad bills.
Find your Senator HERE or call the Senate lobby at (605) 773-3821.

A couple of bills will likely see hoghouse amendments in the waning hours of session. A hoghouse amendment is when the entire language of a bill is stripped out and new language inserted in its place. The only real limitation is that the new language has to be in the same subject area as the old bill.

Senate Bill 77 was a reasonable bill dealing with campaign finance disclosure for ballot question committees. It will be hoghouse in House State Affairs Committee on Monday morning, so we will be watching for the new language to determine if it’s problematic.

House Bill 1216 would have imposed limits on out-of-state contributions to ballot question committees. It was killed in committee, but will be brought back on the table for a hoghouse amendment in Senate State Affairs on Monday morning. We’ll be watching that one, too.

Initiative & Referendum Bills Still in Play in the Final Days

Below is a list of all the initiative bills still in process and where they are. Tuesday is the last day for bills and resolutions to pass both houses, so we are watching closely for amendments. Anything still in committee (SB 77, HB 1216, HJR 1006) will, if it passed, be on the floor for final consideration on Tuesday.

(+) DRA Supports  (-) DRA Opposes  (?) Hoghouse Watch

HB 1004–Senate State Affairs, Do Pass–Moves to Senate Floor
HB 1005–Senate State Affairs, Do Pass–Moves to Senate Floor (+)
**SB 77–House State Affairs Tabled–Hoghouse amendment coming Monday, March 5th (?)
SB 128–House State Affairs, Do Pass–Moves to House Floor
HB 1177–Senate State Affairs Do Pass–Moves to Senate Floor (-)
HB 1196–Senate State Affairs Do Pass–Moves to Senate Floor (-)
HB 1216–Senate State Affairs Tabled–Hoghouse amendment coming Monday, March 5th (?)
HB 1282–Senate State Affairs Do Pass–Moves to Senate Floor
HB 1304–Senate State Affairs Do Pass–Moves to Senate Floor (-)
HJR 1006–Hearing in Senate State Affairs, Monday March 5th (-)

**Not previously on our watch list; it is now because it will be hoghoused.

Thank you for all your calls, emails, and other support this Legislative Session!

DRA Weekly Legislative Update

Big Win On Manure Pipes; Big Loss on CUP Appeals

Nine DRA members traveled to Pierre this week to testify against two bad bills.

House Bill 1184 would have allowed the right of CAFO operators to run force-main manure pipes from their lagoons to cross private land using the right-of-way–without landowner notice or permission to do so. The bill placed these pipes, a benefit to a private business, in the section of code dealing with public utilities.

The bill was supported by individual CAFO operators, the Farm Bureau, SD Pork Producers, SD Dairy Producers, the SD Dept. of Transportation, SD Association of County Commissioners, and the lobbyist for both SD Association of Co-ops and SD Ag Unity. Testimony from the operators present indicated that they are already using these manure pipes, and they are doing so by working with their neighbors to gain permission and provide notification. This bill would have ended the necessity of working with neighbors and infringed on private property rights, and that was the focus of our testimony in opposition.

Our contingent to oppose HB 1184 in Senate Transportation Committee consisted of farmers, ranchers, and landowners, as well as former state legislators, county commissioners, and township supervisors. We were joined in opposition by lobbyists for sportsmens’ environmental, and conservation groups.

After a lengthy day of testimony, with final remarks coming shortly before 5pm, committee members moved to send the bill to the 41st day–effectively killing the bill. The final vote was 4-2 (1 excused) to kill the bill, with one lawmaker excused.

Senators voting in favor of manure pipes were Jim Bolin (R-Canton) and Jim Stalzer (R-Sioux Falls). Those who voted to support private property rights and working with neighbors were Jason Frerichs (D-Wilmot), Alan Solano (R-Rapid City), Ernie Otten (R-Tea), and Lance Russell (R-Hot Springs). Blake Curd was excused.

We had anticipated seeing the bill “smoked out” on the Senate floor–a process by which the bill’s proponents attempt to have a bill that was killed in committee brought up for debate by the full body of House or Senate. The morning after the vote, DRA members and others blanketed Senators’ mailboxes with an excellent opposition article on the bill, and we tracked the afternoon’s floor proceedings from the Senate gallery. The smokeout never came, and HB 1184 appears to be dead for the year.


Outside the hearing room Tuesday, DRA member and former District 4 State Rep. Kathy Tyler engaged in  discussion with current District 4 Rep. Jason Kettwig about his bill that undermines the CUP appeal process

House Bill 1292 was an even harder fight, and unfortunately one where we did not prevail. Understanding the bill required a crash course in all the different ways that counties and municipalities set up their Conditional Use Permitting process, and DRA’s lobbyist and members spent an extraordinary amount of time talking this through with legislators and others in the weeks preceding the hearing. Five DRA members testified in opposition, along with our lobbyist and the lobbyist for the SD Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The bill’s proponents argued that it creates consistency in the appeal process when those opposed to a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) decision decide to challenge that decision in circuit court. While that’s technically true, the problem is that there isn’t consistency in the way counties and municipalities grant those permits, and the permitting bodies have options when it comes to setting up their own systems in order to allow for the appeal process they want.

Right now, those boards deciding on CUPs by a simple majority vote will have a full review (de novo) of their proceedings should the permit be appealed. Those granting CUPs with a supermajority have a de certiorari review, which only looks at whether the body had jurisdiction to grant, and whether they acted legally in doing so. The bill took away all option for a de novo, or full review. The problem is not necessarily losing the full review option for simple majority CUP-granting boards at present–there aren’t many of them. The real problem is that the vast majority of the boards currently using a supermajority vote for CUP decisions may consider moving to a simple majority now that the “threat” of de novo review no longer exists.

HB 1292 slid through Senate Judiciary Committee on a 4-3 vote last Tuesday evening. Proponents included the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jason Kettwig (R-Milbank), Sen. John Wiik (R-Big Stone City), and Sen. Art Rusch (R-Vermillion), as well as two lobbyists for large wind energy companies. One of those lobbyists admitted that he hadn’t understood the bill when he first read it, but now that he did, he thought it was a great idea. While large CAFO interests were not present at the hearing, it is likely that they, too, are rejoicing at its passage because this legislation seriously undermines citizens’ ability to challenge the granting of CUPs for large industrial projects that negatively affect natural resources and South Dakotans’ quality of life.

The bill passed the Senate floor Thursday evening on a 22-13 vote, and will be signed by the Governor. Senator Craig Kennedy (D-Yankton) and Senator Stace Nelson (R-Fulton) spoke against the bill, and immediately following the second opposition speaker, Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate Matt Michels moved quickly to shut down debate and called for closing remarks by the sponsor.

Passage of this legislation makes it more important than ever that DRA members and others interested in preserving our rural communities and natural resources step up to run for county and municipal offices, and to apply for seats on planning and zoning boards as they become available.


Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls), Brock Greenfield (R-Clark), Josh Klumb (R-Mount Vernon), Ryan Maher (R-Isabel), Art Rusch (R-Vermillion), Alan Solano (R-Rapid City), John Wiik (R-Big Stone City), Gary Cammack (R-Union Center), Bob Ewing (R-Spearfish), Terri Haverly (R-Rapid City), Jack Kolbeck (R-Sioux Falls), Jenna Netherton (R-Sioux Falls), Jeff Partridge (R-Rapid City), Jim Stalzer (R-Sioux Falls), Larry Tidemann (R-Brookings), Jordan Youngberg (R-Madison), Jason Frerichs (D-Wilmot), Kris Langer (R-Dell Rapids), Al Novstrup (R-Aberdeen), Deb Peters (R-Hartford), Deb Soholt (R-Sioux Falls), Jim White (R-Huron).

Initiative & Referendum: The Long Debate:

The last of the initiative & referendum bills made their way through their committees of origin last week, and they’re beginning to show up in their second round of committee hearings.

We supported House Bill 1005, which simplifies ballot language for the effect of a “yes” or “no” vote once it was amended to clear up confusing wording on referred laws. It sailed through Senate State Affairs this week, but was not placed on the consent calendar, so we will watch for any potential last-minute amendments on the Senate floor last week.

House Bill 1196 required petition circulators to provide a laundry list of personal information to the Secretary of State’s office in order to prove their residency. The list included the last three addresses of residency for the circulator, the area code of their cell phone, the address of their immediate family, and even whether they had an out-of-state library card. We saw the bill as an intimidation tactic, as well as an opportunity for those who are anxious to bring court challenges to initiatives they don’t favor to have their research work done for them in advance. The bill did make it through committee, but the list was extensively amended. We’ll continue to oppose it on the Senate Floor.

House Bill 1216 limited out-of-state contributions to ballot question committees. We opposed the bill because not only is it likely unconstitutional, but out-of-state money isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, we can envision a situation where allied groups from other states might be willing to pitch in on a campaign to help strengthen our Family Farm Act. DRA was joined in opposition by a number of other organizations that have not taken positions on most other initiative bills–including SD Retailers Association, SD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, SD Electric Utility Companies, and Americans for Prosperity. The bill was killed in committee, then immediately placed back on the table with a hoghouse amendment coming Monday. We’ll be watching closely for what surprises that new language will contain.

SJR 1, the 55% threshold for approval of constitutional amendments on the ballot, passed its final hurdle last week and will go on the ballot. We testified against this bill early on in the process, but its final hearing in House State Affairs this week overlapped with our fight against the Manure Pipes bill, so our lobbyist was unable to take another crack at it in person. No other organization appeared to contest the bill in that final hearing, either, and it passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats Spencer Hawley (Brookings) and Julie Bartling (Gregory) opposing. The House floor vote was 55-9, so the proposed amendment will appear on the 2018 general election ballot for South Dakota voters to decide.

The Session is drawing to a close, but we’re still fighting for your voice in Pierre!
Throw a few bucks in the legislative tip jar to keep us truckin’.

Thank You!

ACTION ALERT: Right to Appeal Permit Decisions Under Attack!

Citizen Right to Appeal Permitting Decisions Under Attack!

Last Vote Coming on Senate Floor!


DRA Members wait to deliver opposition testimony on HB 1292, along with the bill’s prime sponsor, District 4 Rep. Jason Kettwig.

House Bill 1292 undermines citizens’ ability to appeal Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) in circuit court by giving all such appeals a lesser “de certiorari” standard of review.

CUPs are the permits by which CAFOs, wind farms, and other development projects are approved by counties and municipalities.

We have already seen how a lopsided process pits under-resourced counties, municipalities, and citizens against large, well-funded developers and their teams of lawyers, engineers, and consultants–often resulting in decision-makers feeling forced to knuckle under to pressure from corporate interests over citizen concerns.

NOW, those corporate interests are bringing legislation to strip a full and fair “de novo” review process from citizens who appeal those decisions in circuit court.

Clearly this is a industry bill based on the proponent testimony from Big Energy lobbyists–of course they love this bill (as do CAFO developers and others) because it gives them even more of an advantage in the process.

Do NOT Delay in Letting State Senators Know To Oppose HB 1292!

ACTION ALERT: Manure Pipes Monday; CUP Appeals Tuesday

Manure Pipes Monday; CUP Appeals Tuesday–Contact Legislators Now!

House Bill 1184 would place force-main CAFO manure disposal pipes in the section of code dealing with public utilities (31-26). It will be heard Monday, February 26 at 9am in Senate Transportation Committee, Room 423 of the Capitol.

Proponents say that a vote against the bill is a vote against agriculture–but most actual farmers and ranchers disagree. This is an industry bill that provides special privileges for one segment of the ag community while taking rights away from others.

Contact legislators to tell them waste disposal for private businesses is NOT a public utility and should not be allowed to cross private property without landowner permission.


Senate Transportation Committee:
Ernie Otten, Chair
Jim Stalzer, Vice Chair
Jim Bolin
Blake Curd
Jason Frerichs
Lance Russell
Alan Solano

House Bill 1292 has gotten less press (and is more complex), but its effects may be even worse than HB 1184. It will be heard in Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 27.

Proponents say this bill provides “consistency” in reviews of Conditional Use Permit decisions, but it does that by making it more difficult for citizens to appeal when a board clearly violates its own process. Right now, boards that use a ⅔ majority to approve permits have a “de certiorari” review in circuit court, which means courts grant some certainty that the board followed its own process.

Boards that use a simple majority to approve permits undergo a “de novo” review, meaning that the courts look at the entire process to see if there were irregularities. “De novo” reviews can help citizens successfully appeal permit decisions where boards have chosen to cut corners in order to fast-track potentially controversial projects.

This bill gives ALL appeals of Conditional Use Permit decisions a “de certiorari” review, and may even entice current ⅔ majority decision-making boards to switch to simple majority decision-making, since the threat of a full review would be removed.

For all those concerned about citizen rights and citizen input on developments such as wind farms, CAFOs, industrial parks, and other big projects, this is a MUST-KILL bill.

Contact Senate Judiciary Committee Members today!

Senate Judiciary Committee:
Lance Russell, Chair
**Arthur Rusch, Vice Chair
Brock Greenfield
Craig Kennedy
Kris Langer
Stace Nelson
Jenna Netherton
**denotes bill sponsor

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DRA Weekly Legislative Update

Two Must-Kill Bills Will Have Second Committee Hearings Soon

House Bill 1292 seeks to change the standard of appeal for Conditional Use Permits. Currently, those counties and municipalities that use a ⅔ majority to approve these permits have a de certiorari standard of review, wherein the courts grant a level of certainty that the permitting board followed its own rules in the permit approval (or denial) process.

Counties and municipalities that use a simple majority vote to approve these permits have a de novo review process in circuit court for challenges of those decisions. That means the court looks at their entire process of granting the permit to make sure that the permitting body followed all the rules laid out for the process, as well as looking at new information.

This bill seeks to change this sensible difference in standard of review to across-the-board de certiorari review, meaning that in those counties where a simple majority can approve or deny major projects such as wind farms, CAFOs, or large developments–a change in the standard of review will undermine the ability of opposition to show how the process may have been skewed.

Additionally, if this bill passes, counties that have previously used a ⅔ majority to approve permits (some do this in order to avoid the de novo review) may switch to simple majorities to approve Conditional Use Permits on large-scale and potentially controversial projects.

HB 1292 is scheduled in Senate Judiciary Committee’s 7:45 am meeting on Tuesday, February 22nd, but it’s the 9th bill on a packed agenda. If you’re interested in testifying, please contact DRA’s lobbyist Rebecca Terk at rebeccat@dakotarural.org or call/text (320) 305-9685. Otherwise, CONTACT Committee Members ASAP!


Damage done to culvert on private property from CAFO manure pipes forced through it

House Bill 1184 would allow CAFO operators to run their force-main manure disposal pipes through the right of way across private land without landowner permission. It would accomplish this by putting these pipes into a section of code (31-26) dealing with public utilities such as rural water and electric lines–except these pipes would be above ground.

We see HB 1184 as a major breach of private property rights. Currently, those wishing to run their private business’s waste disposal pipes across their neighbor’s land work out an agreement to do so with their neighbor. This bill would allow them to do it without any kind of permission or notification. An amendment to this bill allows for counties to regulate this process if they desire–but there’s no requirement to do so. Proponents of this bill say that a vote against it is “a vote against agriculture,” but our farmer and rancher members disagree–if you want to do a part of your business on someone else’s property, you work that out with them. Contact members of the Senate Transportation Committee and tell them to OPPOSE this bill.

Appetite for Destruction of People’s Process Waning–Four Bills Die This Week

Pressure from citizens across the state is starting to erode the legislature’s appetite for undermining the initiative and referendum process. In House State Affairs this week, two resolutions that were major blows against direct democracy died in committee.

Some Legislators seem to be forgetting the state motto, “Under God The People Rule”

House Joint Resolution 1008 would have required any citizen-initiated amendment to the constitution, once approved by voters, go back to the legislature for final approval. That would have meant that even measures passed by an overwhelming majority of the voters could simply be scrapped by legislators (no doubt accompanied by the maddening refrain that, “people didn’t know what they were voting for”). However, the Do Pass motion met resistance, and the resolution failed on a 7-6 vote.

Immediately following the demise of HJR 1008, Rep. Mickelson quickly moved to table his own House Joint Resolution 1007 in order to spare it a more resounding defeat. Though the resolution had virtually no chance of passing the full legislature, its ultimate fate would have been defeat at the hands of voters–as a proposed constitutional amendment, it is required to go on the ballot. The question HJR 1007 asked was whether to do away with citizen-initiated constitutional amendment entirely.

Clearly, being faced with the ultimate goal of most of these initiative bills caused legislators to begin backing away. However, HJR 1006, proposing single-subject amendments to the constitution, did pass committee on a party line vote, and has since made it through the full House as well.

The full House did reject two other bills undermining the initiative process this week–House Bill 1201 required information on the ballot about a petition sponsor, where they live, and how much they were paid. Opponents testified that the information was of no real import in determining the merits of the actual legislation and that this kind of information simply clutters up the ballot.

House Bill 1275 would have instituted an unwieldy and unworkable system whereby petition circulators would be required to gather signatures from ⅔ of Senate Districts in the state. The Secretary of State testified against this bill in committee, saying that the additional sampling requirements would make the process of verifying petitions (most of which already contain signatures from registered voters residing in multiple districts) mind-bogglingly complex. Opponents on the floor included some legislators who had not previously risen to defend the process.

Overview of All Initiative & Referendum Bills (With Current Status)

If you were to categorize by subject all of the bills and other forms of legislation filed this session, the category with the most bills by far is that dealing with initiative and referendum. While there are a couple of bills coming out of the summer task force that were good ideas to improve the process, the majority seek to undermine that process. Eight bills have been defeated so far, including one we supported. One bill we opposed has made it through both houses and was signed by the Governor. Below is a comprehensive list of all of the initiative & referendum bills, with where they are in the process indicated in parentheses. The bills we support have an asterisk beside their bill number.

Bills & Resolutions from the Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum

HB1004–Board of Elections Determines Petition & Font Size (Senate State Affairs)

*HB1005–Simplified Ballot Recitation (Senate State Affairs)

HB1006–LRC Substantive Comment & Blackout Period (Governor’s Desk)

HB1007–Citizen Initiative Review Commission (Dead, Then Hoghoused–See Below)

SB 9–Fiscal Notes for Initiatives on 2018 Ballot (House)

*SB 10–Resolution of Conflicts between initiatives passed in same election (House)

SB 11–Limits Time Frame in Which Initiatives Can Be Filed (House)

*SB 12–Remove Requirement for entire initiative text to be printed on petition form (Dead)

*SB 13–LRC to do fiscal notes as a part of its other comments (House)

SJR 1–55% Constitutional Amendment Threshold (House State Affairs)

Non-Task Force Bills

HB 1007–(Hoghouse version) Initiated measures one subject (Senate)

HB 1177–IM petition circulation revisions (Senate State Affairs)

HB 1196–IM petition circulator residency (Senate State Affairs)

HB 1201–require sponsor info on ballot (Dead)

HB 1216–Out of state contributions to ballot question committees (Senate State Affairs)

HB 1275–petition signatures from ⅔ of senate districts (Dead)

HB 1282–notify of out of state contributions to ballot question committees (Senate State Affairs)

HB 1302–Prohibit paid ballot question petition circulation entirely (Dead)

HB 1304–Revise provisions on challenging petitions (Senate State Affairs)

HJR 1006–Initiated constitutional amendments–one subject (Senate State Affairs)

HJR 1007–End citizen-initiated constitutional amendments (Dead)

HJR 1008–Require legislative approval of voter-approved constitutional amendments (Dead)

SB 124–Felony penalty for violation of petition circulation laws (Dead)

SB 128–Revise provisions regarding ballot question committees (House State Affairs)

We’re Working Every Day to Protect the People’s Process!
Help support our efforts defending direct democracy with a donation to our Legislative Fund!

ACTION ALERT–Three Initiative-Undermining Resolutions on Wednesday

Three Bad Bills–One Committee!

While we try not to overload our action alerts with multiple bills–this one’s an easy call (or email). Let members of the House State Affairs Committee know that all three of these bills undermining the citizen-initiated amendment process should be voted down. They’re all up for hearing early Wednesday.

HJR 1006–Ends Multiple-Subject Initiated Amendments to the Constitution

HJR 1007–Ends Citizen-Initiated Amendments to the Constitution

HJR 1008–Requires all Citizen-Initiated Amendments to the Constitution to be approved by the Legislature

House State Affairs Committee:

Julie Bartling: julie.bartling@sdlegislature.gov
Arch Beal: arch.beal@sdlegislature.gov
Lynne DiSanto: lynne.disanto@sdlegislature.gov
Steven Haugaard: steven.haugaard@sdlegislature.gov
Spence Hawley: spencer.hawley@sdlegislature.gov
Leslie Heinemann: leslie.heinemann@sdlegislature.gov
Isaac Latterell: isaac.latterell@sdlegislature.gov
David Lust: david.lust@sdlegislature.gov
Mark Mickelson: mark.mickelson@sdlegislature.gov
Kent Peterson: kent.peterson@sdlegislature.gov
Lee Qualm: lee.qualm@sdlegislature.gov
Larry Rhoden: larry.rhoden@sdlegislature.gov
Tona Rozum: tona.rozum@sdlegislature.gov

You can also call the House Lobby and leave a message for individual House members:
(605) 773-3851

Why are these bills so bad?

Multiple-subject amendments are often needed to update or change various parts of the Constitution. If each change needed a separate initiative, each would require the entire process of petitioning and gathering 28,000 or so valid signatures, as well as fundraising and a campaign to educate voters on each part.

Requiring all citizen-initiated amendments to be approved by the legislature means that even if voters approved an amendment by overwhelming margins, legislators hostile to those changes could simply nullify the will of voters.

And, getting rid of citizen-initiated amendments entirely? Even if it makes it out of committee (which it shouldn’t), keep in mind that this is a bright, shiny distraction to take our attention off all the other bills being brought to undermine the process of initiative & referendum. Legislators need to hear from YOU that associating with this attack on initiative will have clear repercussions come the November elections.

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Give to the DRA Legislative Fund Here.

Dakota Rural Action Weekly Legislative Update

Members of the Community Energy Development Committee along with Black Hills staff pose with our bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls

PACE Bill Heard in House Commerce & Energy
This Wednesday, members from our Community Energy Development (CED) Committee presented a strong defense of our Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation in the House Commerce & Energy Committee. It was a tough sell with several other complex bills ahead of us on the agenda, but we had some good input on our bill and support in unexpected places! This is a real opportunity to bring back the legislation next year with a stronger sponsor base, as programs such as this often take several years to get through the legislative morass.

The final vote (taken nearly half an hour after the committee regularly adjourns) was 10-3, with opposition testimony coming from SD Bankers Association, SD Association of County Commissioners, and SD Electrical Association. Sadly, it appeared that the opposition hadn’t really digested the bill, and they came with testimony that dealt mostly with residential PACE programs, which our bill did not include. Supporters of the bill were Reps. Hawley (D-Brookings), Johnson (R-Rapid City), and Steinhauer (R-Hartford). Our prime sponsor was Rep. Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls).

“Zombie” CUP Appeal Bill Nearly Squeaks By–Pulled From Consent
Sometimes a bill nearly gets by us. As part of last week’s Action Alert on PACE legislation, we also sent word of a bill killed twice on the House floor last session. That bill is back this year in its original, un-amended form as HB 1292. The legislation undermines local control by changing the way circuit courts review Conditional Use Permit appeals.

Because this bill was heard in House Judiciary Committee at the exact same time as our PACE bill was heard in Commerce & Energy, we weren’t able to have a presence in the room. Despite outreach and emails from members, it passed unanimously and was placed on the House consent calendar. Bills on “Consent” are passed as a batch the day after their passage out of committees unless any legislator requests that a bill be pulled off that calendar. Thankfully, we were able to touch base with legislators and get that bill pulled–and with the four-day weekend, that means we (and you) have got LOTS of time to get in touch with House Reps. to remind them to KILL THIS ZOMBIE AGAIN when it comes up for floor debate.

In case you’d like to review how your Representatives voted last year (in order to remind them to do the same this year), here’s the 2017 bill information page with both House floor votes. (Click on the “Do Pass Amended, Failed” lines for individual votes.)

House Floor vote on CAFO manure pipes bill this week. The bill will move next to Senate Transportation Committee

CAFO Manure Pipes Bill Squeezes Through the House

HB 1184 grants CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) special privileges to use the right of way along roads and through ditches–across private property and without permission of landowners–to run pipes to pump their manure to non-adjoining fields. By and large, CAFOs are not even a permitted use in agriculturally-zoned areas (they’re a conditional use, and require a hearing process), but proponents are claiming their waste pipes are a public utility and should be treated as such in state law. An amendment in committee adds that counties “may authorize and regulate” them–not “shall”–meaning that in some counties, good neighbor relationships will be out the window as some CAFO operators ride roughshod over the private property rights of adjoining landowners with no real protection from local government. The bill passed the House on a 45-20 vote (5 excused) and heads next to Senate Transportation Committee.

Initiative & Referendum–When Will They Get the Message?
Despite calls to end the attacks, more initiative and referendum bills made their way through committee and their houses of origin this week. Among them are:

HB 1275–Speaker Pro Tempore Steven Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls) sponsored this bill that requires petition circulators to gather signatures from ⅔ of legislative districts. The bill’s own supporters seem confused about its contents, as their testimony repeatedly swapped the word “districts” for “counties” in attempting to explain how this process would work. That might be because a similar bill last session attempted to require a certain number of petition signatures from a certain number of counties, and was summarily killed in committee as an unworkable objective. The idea was also brought up (and dismissed) in the Summer Task Force, and during Wednesday’s committee hearing on the bill, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs repeated how unwieldy this system would be for her limited staff. Despite the clear signals that the bill is entirely unworkable, it passed out of House State Affairs and will be debated on the House floor next week.

HB 1216–Representative Gosch’s (R-Glenham) bill that limits out of state contributions to ballot question committees is likely unconstitutional, as some legislators pointed out in House floor debate. That’s likely why it failed on its first vote. However, Speaker of the House G. Mark Mickelson (whose dim view of the initiative & referendum process is widely known) worked hard to revive the bill, saying that the constitutionality question is a 50/50 toss up, and apparently enough House members were willing to take the chance of a lawsuit to vote for it when it was reconsidered the next day. It moves next to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

SB 124 attempts to place a Level 5 Felony Conviction on anyone who knowingly breaks rules of the petition-circulating process. This is the same level of offense as incest, selling half a pound of marijuana, or having multiple DWI charges, and it carries the penalty of 5 years in prison and up to a ten thousand dollar fine. Senator Jim Bolin’s (R-Canton) attempt to get tough on petition circulators was hampered, however, by his inability to answer questions in Senate Judiciary Committee like, “What are all the rules of petition circulation?”

Admittedly, that’s a hard question to answer at this moment considering that legislators like Bolin are attempting to make so many more of them. Instead of sentencing this bad bill to the 41st Day, Committee Chair Lance Russell (R-Hot Springs) gave Bolin and Speaker Mickelson (who arrived after the testimony period and simply walked up and took Bolin’s seat to answer committee questions) another week to “fix” their clearly sloppy legislation. We’ll see this bill back in front of Senate Judiciary Committee next Tuesday.

Take Action! What Bills To Talk About This Weekend:

HB 1292–Undermines Local Control in the CUP Appeal Process
Vote No–this was killed on House floor twice last year and for good reason!
Contact: State House Members

HB 1184–Gives CAFOs Special Privileges & Violates Private Property Rights
Vote No–CAFO manure pipes are not a public utility!
Contact: Senate Transportation Committee

SB 124–Felony for Petition Rule Circulators
Vote No–Clearly an attempt to intimidate citizens engaging in their right to initiate!
Contact: Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 1275–Sets Up an Unworkable System for Collecting Ballot Signatures
Vote No–the Secretary of State calls this impossible!
Contact: State House Members

HJR 1007 & HJR 1008–Ending or Curtailing Citizen-Initiated Constitutional Amendment
Vote No–Clear, Unabashed Attacks on Citizen Rights!
Contact: House State Affairs

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ACTION ALERT: Conditional Use Permit Appeals & PACE

Two Bills Up in Committee Tomorrow–We Need Your Support!

House Bill 1292 Undermines Citizen Appeal of Conditional Use Permits
Hearing in House Judiciary TOMORROW at 10am–Contact Members for “No” Votes Today!

House Judiciary Committee:


This bad bill sets a higher standard for review of Conditional Use Permit (CUP) appeals when citizens feel their County has not made the right decision based on all facts. The current “de novo” standard allows courts to go over the full case, while the proposed “de certiorari” standard would simply assume counties had followed the correct process.

We killed this bill on the House floor TWICE last year–now the exact same bill is back. Your calls can help stop this in committee and send a clear message that CUP reviews should get a full and fair hearing!


House Bill 1301 Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) in House Commerce & Energy
Contact Committee Members and Tell Them to Support Local Jobs & Development!

House Commerce & Energy Committee Members:


DRA’s Community Energy Development (CED) Committee has brought legislation to enable counties to create financing districts allowing long-term loans from local banks for commercial energy efficiency & renewable energy projects. This is a good economic and workforce development bill that deserves committee support!

Thank You For All Your Calls & Emails This Session!
Your Voice Makes a Difference!