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!


ACTION ALERT: CAFO Manure Pipes as “Public Utility”–House Floor Today

CAFO Proponents Want Manure Disposal Pipes Treated (But Not Regulated) Like Public Utilities

HOUSE BILL 1184 on the House Floor TODAY. CALL OR EMAIL NOW!!!

Call or Email Your State Reps NOW! Tell them NO WAY on HB 1184! Leave a message in the House Lobby by calling (605) 773-3851 or email them.

CAFO Manure pipe running in road in Grant County, right beside a wetland

House Bill 1184 Seems like a pretty innocuous little bill. It’s short, but it’s not sweet. It allows Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to lay manure disposal pipes in accordance with CL 31-26–that is, in the right-of-way as if they were a public utility. After compelling testimony by several members of our Rural Vitality Committee, as well as water quality and sportsmens groups, the bill barely made it out of House Transportation Committee on a 7-6 vote.

Proponents claim that these force main manure disposal pipes are a “public utility” and should be allowed to use the public right-of-way (the road in front of your house, your ditches) to lay their above-ground manure pipes without notice or permission of affected landowners. But CAFOs are private businesses and corporations, their pipes lie above the ground, and they are a safety and environmental hazard. Proponents also say the pipes are safer and do less road damage than trucks, but there’s no leak detection mechanism other than a big plume of manure in the ditch (and waterways), in your yard, or on the road. Road damage needs to be compensated for in the permitting process–and not used as an excuse to take private property rights!

Damage done to culvert on private property as a result of CAFO manure pipes forced through 

CAFO manure pipe running through creek in Northeast SD

Even if you do not live in a rural area or if you live in an area without CAFOs–ESPECIALLY if you don’t live there (because these reps might not understand the full impact, but they DO understand private property rights being taken for corporate use), CALL or email your State Representatives NOW.

ACTION ALERT: Manure Pipes, Oil Spills, Water Permits TUESDAY


BAD! Call to Defeat:

  • An Act to Provide Certain Provisions Regarding Waste Disposal Lines along or under highways (HB 1184) would allow CAFOs to lay manure pipes in the right of way on private property using the same provisions as public utilities. This bill will be heard in House Transportation at 10am, Room 423 of the Capitol. Contact House Transportation members HERE or call the House lobby and leave them a message at (605) 773-3851.

GOOD! Call to Support:

  • Require Public Notice & Hearing for Temporary Water Use Permits (HB 1225) for construction, testing, or drilling purposes. This bill will be heard in House Ag & Natural Resources at 7:45 am Tuesday in Room 464 of the Capitol. Email Committee Members here, or call the House lobby at (605) 773-3851 and leave them a message.
  • Provide Certain Provisions Regarding Aerial Applicators of pesticides (SB 179)–puts in place some common sense liability and setback requirements that are currently completely lacking in the state. Contact Senate Ag Committee members here, call the Senate Lobby at (605) 773-3821, or show up in support in Room 412 of the Capitol at 10am.
  • Require Certain Reports in the Event of an Oil Spill (SB 163) makes publicly available a chemical analysis on the contents of the spill. It will be heard in Senate Commerce & Energy Committee, Room 423, at 10am. Contact Senate Commerce & Energy members here, of call the Senate Lobby ay (605) 773-3821 to leave them a message.

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ACTION ALERT: We Are *This* Close On HB 1006


Click HERE to find your Senator and their email address. It’s fast, easy, and all you have to do is say, “NO on HB 1006.” Just do it right now because there is no time to waste!

We hate to clog your news feed, but we came *this* close to a reasonable compromise on House Bill 1006 today. And party politics as usual blew it up.

We know we can defeat this bill, which institutes a “blackout period” of up to 4 1/2 MONTHS during which the Legislative Research Council (LRC) is not required to respond to citizen-initiated laws and constitutional amendments. Thanks to your calls and emails on this bill, legislators were feeling the pressure, and we had a compromise in hand during Senate State Affairs Committee today. Senators from both parties, the bill sponsors, and even the Director of the LRC came to the table, only to lose it all when Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd offered a substitute motion and blew the whole thing out of the water.

And now, the bill is up on the Senate Floor only a day after it passed committee.

It’s clear that the pressure we put on before today’s committee hearing has them spooked, and it’s clear that those who oppose citizens’ constitutional right to initiate laws and amendments are trying to rush this through before legislators head home for weekend cracker barrels and legislative coffees.

Call or email today! STOP THE ASSAULT on citizens’ constitutional rights!

ACTION ALERT: Blackout Period on Initiatives in State Affairs TOMORROW

HB 1006 Undermines Our Constitutional Right to Initiate

Call the Senate Lobby at (605) 773-3821 or Write To Members of Senate State Affairs Telling Them to KILL this BILL TODAY!


Even Better–SHOW UP TO TESTIFY against this bill in Senate State Affairs Committee tomorrow, Wed. Jan 24 at 10am in Room 414 of the Capitol.

Since 1898, Citizens of South Dakota have “expressly reserve[d] to themselves the right to propose measures, which shall be submitted to a vote of the electors of the state.” This is the language within our State Constitution that give us the right to initiate laws, and it has been there since nearly the beginning of statehood.

Now, the legislature is attempting to undermine our ability to exercise our Constitutional Right by limiting our access to mechanisms we’re required to use in order to draft citizen initiatives, as well as constitutional amendments.

House Bill 1006 says that during the Legislative Session, the Legislative Reseach Council (LRC–which drafts and comments on bills and initiatives) belongs EXCLUSIVELY to the Legislature, and that the LRC is not required to comment on citizen initiatives from December 1st until 15 days after session adjournment–potentially up to 4 1/2 months, or over 1/3 of the year.

Citizens are required to start the initiative process with submission to LRC, and after that wait up to two months getting feedback from the Attorney General & Secretary of State’s Office. House Bill 1006 sets back the citizen process, and is a major gutting of our Constitutional right to initiate.

This bill has already been heard in its house of origin and was passed on the House Floor. This may be our last chance to knock down this harmful legislation coming from the Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum.

Contact Senate State Affairs Today and Tell Them to Kill This Bill!

ACTION ALERT: Initiative & Referendum Bills in Committee Tomorrow


CALL the House Lobby at (605) 773-3851
Leave a message for members of the House State Affairs Committee!
(See roster below)

The lobby phone is answered from 7:30am-1 hour after the end of session.
At other times, you may leave a voicemail.

HB 1004 Clarifies that the State Board of Elections can make rules regarding petition size and petition font size. This bill could create the opportunity for limiting initiatives based simply on the number of words in the text–and for revisions of existing code that deal with updating multiple sections.
MESSAGE: The potential for limiting initiatives is too great; vote NO.

HB 1005 Revises the ballot recitation language from an statement crafted by the Attorney General to a simple, “vote yes to pass” and “vote no to reject” phrasing. We agree with the intent of the bill, which is to remove the opportunity for biased language on the ballot, HOWEVER, the recitation for referred laws (laws passed by the legislature that have been referred to the ballot by voter signatures) is a “vote yes to say no” and “vote no to say yes” switcheroo that will cause confusion at the ballot box.
MESSAGE: Amend the language on referred laws so that “yes” means pass and “no” means reject.

HB 1006: Section 1 provides for substantive comments to be made on ballot initiatives by the Legislative Research Council (LRC), which is something the LRC has already been willing to do. BUT, the bill’s second section creates a “blackout” period during legislative session when the LRC is not required to comment on the people’s initiatives. LRC staff indicated that dealing with citizen initiatives during the legislative session has not been a problem.
MESSAGE: STRIKE section two of this bill.

You can also email members of the committee using the addresses below.

House State Affairs Committee:

Chair: Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center
Vice Chair: Lee Qualm, R-Platte
Julie Bartling, D-Gregory
Arch Beal, R-Sioux Falls
Lynne DiSanto, R-Box Elder
Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls
Spencer Hawley, D-Brookings
Leslie Heinemann, R-Flandreau
Isaac Latterell, R-Tea  
David Lust, R-Rapid City
G. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls
***Kent Peterson, R-Salem
Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell

***Representative Peterson serves on the committee and is a sponsor of all of three of these bills, which were drafted in the Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum.

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Initiative & Referendum Task Force Final Meeting Wednesday–Contact Members NOW

No fewer than twenty bills are on the docket for consideration in the final meeting of the Initiative & Referendum Summer Task Force on Wednesday, August 23rd in Pierre.

And there’s no time slated for citizen input.


A number of these bills were already discussed in the last meeting. However, the July meeting agenda provided for up to two hours of public comment on the draft bills; this final meeting agenda provides no room for citizen input on the plethora of new bills under consideration–many of which would undermine the citizens’ tools for direct democracy in this state.

This is the final meeting of the task force, where bill drafts will be recommended for consideration during the 2018 legislative session.

The more bad bills we kill now, the fewer bad bills we’ll have to fight in committee and on the House and Senate floor come January. That means you should contact Task Force members BEFORE Wednesday!

The Legislative Research Council has prepared a summary of all of the bill drafts under consideration, accessible here.

Contact information for the members of the task force is here:
Initiative & Referendum Task Force Contacts (PDF)

Dakota Rural Action’s stance is first and foremost to protect the initiative and referendum process. South Dakota was the first state in the nation to enshrine these tools for direct democracy, and they have been invaluable in dealing directly with issues the legislature won’t touch, as well as checking the legislature when they go in directions we don’t agree with.

Here’s a run-down of the bills under consideration. The numbers are the Legislative Research Council’s draft numbers. Our comments are in italics, and our stance is in boldface:

  • #77–Board of Elections can determine petition size and font size. Members of the task force who are on the Board of Elections have indicated this is already under their purview. NO.
  • #82–Requires initiated measures being circulated now for the 2018 ballot to go back to the LRC for a fiscal note. Last session, the requirement for IM’s to have a fiscal note passed, but did not go into effect until July 1st. So, this is basically cluttering the process for ballot measure committees who’ve already gone through the LRC process and are collecting signatures now (as well being a pain for the LRC). NO.
  • #83–Revise the attorney general’s recitation of “yes” or “no.” This may actually have some benefit, as previous initiators have indicated concern over the AG’s ballot wording of what a “Yes” or a “No” vote does. This bill would simplify (and potentially neutralize) that language. YES.
  • #84–If two ballot measures on the same subject but with conflicting language pass in the same election, the measure receiving the most votes supersedes. Seems reasonable. MAYBE.
  • #87–Moves the filing deadline for initiated measure petitions from one year to the second day of May prior to the next general election. More time for circulating and gathering petitions=more opportunity for direct democracy. YES.
  • #96–Allows petition circulation to begin 30 months (rather than 24) prior to the next general election. Again, more time for circulation means more opportunity for grassroots groups to gather signatures. That’s a YES.
  • #97–Allows the LRC to provide substantive assistance as well as style and form assistance to petition sponsors. This could be useful, so long as sponsors retain the right to say “no” to comments they disagree with. MAYBE.
  • #99–Removes the requirement for the full text of the measure to be on the petition form; allows circulators to provide the full text in a separate document. The measure would still require the attorney general’s summary to be printed on the petition itself. This could be helpful in terms of the costs associated with the printing of petitions, since the law now requires the petition and full text to be contained on a single piece of paper–leading to what Secretary of State Krebs referred to as “beach towel petitions” in cases of more lengthy measures. YES.
  • #80 & #81 (Constitutional Amendments)–Requires initiated constitutional amendments to pass with 55% and 60% of the vote, respectively. Proponents of these amendments argue that the constitution is too easy to amend (though to our knowledge none of those folks have been involved in an attempt to get one on the ballot). Initiated constitutional amendments already require double the number of signatures to get on the ballot, which on the ground (in order to account for a margin of error) means about 40,000 signatures. And then a majority of the voters actually have to agree. NO.
  • #95 & #96 (Constitutional Amendments)–Same as the two above, but with the addition of a 2/3 vote requirement for legislature-proposed constitutional amendments. For the reasons stated above, NO.
  • #73–Deadline for LRC comments on ballot measures determined by the length of the ballot measure. Due to a number of factors (including the possibility of an initiated measure that creates or amends several similarly worded sections), the contention that a lengthier ballot measure is necessarily more complex is false. NO.
  • #100–Provides for the automatic generation of a fiscal note for ballot measures. Since the requirement for ballot measures to have a fiscal note passed last session, this is a way to make that automatic rather than a separate step for initiators. YES.
  • #110–(Constitutional Amendment) Limit of two constitutional amendments per ballot. This actually limits to four total–two from the legislature and two from the people. It also sets up a situation where those with the most money to hire paid circulators get their petitions in first and claim those two spots. NO.
  • #113–(Constitutional Amendment) Initiated amendments passed in multiple legislatures/multiple elections. Requires that initiated amendments be passed in two consecutive general elections and that legislature-proposed amendments be passed, passed again in the next session after the general election, and then referred to voters. This overly complicates the process and puts too much time lag on issues that are of immediate concern. NO.
  • #114–(Constitutional Amendment) Initiatives may not be amended except as provided for in the language of the initiative. This blocks the legislature from repealing or amending initiatives passed by the people unless the language of the initiative itself allows for it, or the legislature has a 3/4 majority vote of both houses on an amendment or repeal. YES.
  • #101, #107, #108–Citizen review panels for initiated laws and initiated constitutional amendments. All of these unnecessarily complicate the process by setting up yet another hoop to jump through and a potentially biased one at that. There is nothing that currently blocks folks from having public discussions about what’s on the ballot, so it’s of dubious merit to have the legislature setting up a forum that forces initiators to go through a process they make up. NO.

Dakota Rural Action lobbyist Rebecca Terk will be at Wednesday’s hearing in Pierre to report on the task force’s decisions. The members of the task force should hear from YOU before then with a strong message about protecting the process, and specific input about the bill drafts that should be scrapped.

Our work in Pierre is 100% backed by member contributions.
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Initiative & Referendum Task Force: Take Two

The Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum meets again at the State Capitol, Room 414, on Wednesday, July 19th to discuss draft legislation and take public testimony. Dakota Rural Action’s lobbyist will be there, and we invite members to join us at the Capitol, and to contact task force members.


Since the first meeting of the task force in June, the Legislative Research Council (LRC) has drafted no fewer than ten bills at the request of committee members, as well as fulfilling several research requests. You can read the compiled research and full text of bill drafts on the LRC’s website by clicking here.

The members of the task force need to hear from South Dakotans (that means YOU!) that these tools for Direct Democracy should not be weakened or undermined. Contact them using the link below.

Initiative & Referendum Task Force Contacts (PDF)

Here is a short summary of the ten bills drafted thusfar:

  1. Lengthens the amount of time the LRC has to review initiated laws and constitutional amendments from fifteen days to fifteen working days.
  2. Ties the amount of time the LRC has to review initiated laws and constitutional amendments to the number of words in the initiated measure.
  3. Exempts the LRC from reviewing citizen-initiated laws and constitutional amendments during the regular legislative session–reviews of any initiated measures submitted during the session would be due 15 days following the close of session.
  4. On initiated measures submitted to their office, directs the LRC to provide comments not only on style and form (required at present), but on the “substantive content” of initiated measures, “in order to minimize any conflict with existing law and to ensure the measure’s or amendment’s effective administration.”
  5. Limits the number of initiated measures, referred laws, and constitutional amendments that can appear on the ballot.
  6. Directs the State Board of Elections to promulgate rules concerning petition size and font size.
  7. Moves the dates for completed petitions to be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office from one year ahead of the next general election to the last day of June prior to the general election (increasing the amount of time petitioners have to collect signatures).
  8. A resolution increasing the number of votes required to pass an initiated constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60% (if passed, this resolution would go to the voters for approval).
  9. A resolution increasing the number of votes required to pass an initiated constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 55% (if passed by the legislature, this resolution would go to the voters for approval).
  10. Requiring initiated laws and constitutional amendments submitted before July 1 of 2017 to include a fiscal note (this covers those measures submitted before SB77 went into effect).

Remember, Task Force members need to hear from you!

And, so do we!
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We help bring the voice of the people to Pierre.
Donate to our legislative fund TODAY!

ACTION ALERT: Protect Initiative & Referendum

The Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum is Meeting This Week.


Today was the first meeting. Tomorrow, public testimony is being heard in Room 413 at the State Capitol.

Contact the members of the Task Force NOW and tell them South Dakota’s Direct Democracy is important to all of us. They must PROTECT our right to initiate and refer laws–NOT weaken it or make it more difficult to access.

There are plenty of problems in South Dakota’s government, but the initiative and referendum process is not a problem–it’s a solution–a tool for voters to fix what’s not being addressed by the legislature.
Contact the Task Force TODAY to say you want Direct Democracy protected!

Initiative & Referendum Task Force Roster:
Legislator Members:
Senator Jim Bolin

Representative Don Haggar

Senator Reynold Nesiba

Senator Ernie Otten

Representative Tim Reed

Representative Karen Soli

Non-Legislator Members:
Dr. Emily Wanless (Chair)

Pam L. Lynde

Linda Lea M. Viken

Yvonne Taylor

Duane Sutton

Will Mortenson

James W. Abbott
(Jim Abbott was absent from the initial meeting)

Access the agenda and documents for the Task Force via the Legislative Research Council here.

Amplify Your Voice at the Capitol!
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ACTION ALERT: Free Speech & CUP Appeals


HB1187–Undermining Citizens Right to Appeal CUP Decisions–House Floor TODAY

This bill, pitched as “local control friendly” actually removes the right of citizens to appeal Conditional Use Permit decisions by their local Boards of Adjustment. If you’ve ever seen a permit approved even after everyone in the community spoke against it–this bill ensures you don’t have any recourse in the courts.

CALL THE HOUSE LOBBY FROM 7:45AM-1PM TODAY AND LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. Tell them “NO” on 1187–local control means citizens should retain full rights to appeal CUP decisions.

House Lobby: (605) 773-3851

SB176–Undermines Free Speech–Senate Floor TODAY

This last-minute hoghouse bill gives the governor the power to declare a “public safety zone” anywhere in the state with NO parameters on size or location (it could be your own land!)–and creates a new, “aggravated criminal trespass” charge for those who enter that zone. It is SPECIFICALLY targeted against Native people, landowners, and others who protest pipelines and eminent domain for private gain, and it is an attack on the First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech.

CALL THE SENATE LOBBY FROM 7:45AM-1PM TODAY AND LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR SENATORS. Tell them this bill is a direct affront to Freedom of Speech, is Unconstitutional, and should be killed.

Senate Lobby: (605) 773-3821

It is especially important that you CALL today rather than e-mail because these bills are moving fast, and e-mails may not get read in time!


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