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.

THE FOLLOWING SENATORS VOTED TO UNDERMINE YOUR ABILITY TO APPEAL:

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!

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.

Support Our Work in Pierre!
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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DRA Weekly Legislative Update

Gavel In; Gavel Out–No Floor Action on Manure Pipes, Other Bills Until Monday

The threat of heavy snow sent legislators home early; no action was taken on House or Senate floors Thursday

It started snowing early Thursday, and by noon, legislators and lobbyists alike were fleeing the Capitol to head home for the weekend ahead of a projected 6-8” of accumulation. No action was taken on House or Senate floors (they “gaveled in” and promptly “gaveled out”) during the last legislative day of the week, so we will have some extra time to build the case against House Bill 1184, which had been scheduled that day.

The bill would allow Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to run force-main manure disposal pipes through the right-of-way along roadsides and through ditches and culverts as if they were a public utility–and without the permission of affected landowners along the route. On Tuesday, three Grant County DRA members traveled to Pierre to testify in opposition to the bill, which squeaked past the House Transportation Committee on a 7-6 vote. Contact your House members this weekend to tell them, “No Way on HB 1184!”

Aerial Applicators Bill Killed in Senate Ag; Dept. of Ag Pushed to Promulgate Rules
DRA member-producers Angela Jackson and Glenn Pulse brought SB 179  to the Senate Ag Committee this week that would have required aerial pesticide applicators to observe buffers around sensitive sites, including organic farms and apiaries, as well as to carry liability insurance in case of damages.

The bill came out of an incident last summer, where Jackson’s Prairie Sun Organics operation (including a just-completed federally inspected organic poultry processing facility) near Vermillion was hit by spray drift of aerially-applied restricted use chemicals. They lost their organic certification as a result; however, despite the SD Dept. of Ag finding that the applicator broke the law, they have been unable to recover financial damages. The bill met stiff opposition from SD Agribusiness, SD Assoc. Of Co-ops, and a long line of individual aerial applicators who claimed they operate safely. While the bill was ultimately killed, committee members pressed the SD Dept. of Agriculture to promulgate rules for aerial applicators, and to quickly adopt the Field Watch program for registry of sensitive sites.

Lobby Day, Part 2? Members from Northeast and Southeast South Dakota came to testify on bills Tuesday morning. Black Hills members (not pictured) came too!

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Bill Gets a Hearing This Week!
Dakota Rural Action Community Energy Development (CED) Committee looks to have its day in committee this week, as we’ve been told HB 1301 will be scheduled in House Commerce & Energy this Wednesday or Friday.

Members do expect some resistance to the bill, although much of that resistance is likely based on residential PACE programs in other states that have had some problems. This bill focuses on commercial projects and is permissive–it creates a framework for counties to set up programs helping commercial enterprises finance energy conservation and renewable energy projects through local banks. The longer-term payback period with PACE loans keeps the energy cost savings above the cost of the payments.

HB 1007 Raised From the Dead as Part of Initiative Onslaught
Although the Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum brought forward some bills that, in our view, undermine direct democracy, at least Task Force members immersed themselves in the history, context, and legal issues surrounding the citizen initiative process. That cannot be said for the sponsors of many other initiative bills introduced recently, many of whom seem to have little understanding of the law and the process (or they do, and they want to get rid of it).

If this seems like hyperbole, consider the fate of HB 1302, which would have entirely outlawed paid petition circulation in South Dakota. None of the sponsors of the bill were on the task force, and maybe for that reason they were unaware that it was unconstitutional. DRA’s lobbyist and the lobbyist for Represent US pointed that out in testimony, but the majority of House State Affairs Committee members still seemed ready to vote for it–that is, until LRC Attorney and Summer Task Force Staffer Wenzel Cummings was asked to comment. Mr. Cummings affirmed the unconstitutionality of the bill, and cited case law. Finally, the bill was killed. Unfortunately, Mr. Cummings is not often in the hearing room, and as LRC staff, is likely unable to testify unless asked directly by committee members.

House Bill 1007 WAS a Task Force bill on creating a Citizen Initiative Review Commission, and it was defeated soundly back on January 17th. However, Rep. Tona Rozum (R-Mitchell) brought the bill back this week in order to hoghouse it (that is, strip and entirely replace the contents of the bill) as a single-subject citizen initiative bill that will be heard on Monday. In the afternoon House State Affairs Committee hearing where the hoghouse took place, Rep. Rozum attempted to bring the bill carcass back without commenting on the hoghouse amendment–it was only after Rep. Isaac Latterell’s (R-Tea) insistence that he ought to know what he was voting for that Rep. Rozum indicated her intention.

There are many more of these bills, and we are fighting them as they come. The MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO to help fight this fight is to send a clear message to your legislators–through emails, phone calls, cracker barrels, and by showing up to testify in Pierre–that the citizens of South Dakota will not tolerate these attacks on our Constitutional Right to initiate–not now, and not at the ballot box in November.

DRA’s lobbyist Rebecca Terk takes a break from floor and committee action to hop on a staff meeting call

Public Notice & Hearing on Temp. Water Permits Dies; Proponents Still See Potential
House Bill 1225 would have set up a public notice and hearing process for temporary water permits that are currently issued by a sole DENR employee with no public input. Senator Kevin Killer (D-Pine Ridge) pitched the bill in House Commerce & Energy Committee this week, and four Black Hills Chapter members traveled to testify in support as well. The public notification process is particularly important as a tip-off for residents about mining exploration and other potentially damaging projects, as well as a way to protect water resources, particularly in times of drought. The bill encountered stiff resistance from DENR and Associated General Contractors, but testimony and supportive questions from the committee helped shape ideas for future legislation that could differentiate between types of permitted projects or amounts of water requested.

Are We There Yet? Nope, Only Halfway Through–
This week marked the halfway point of the 2018 Legislative Session. Dakota Rural Action’s work in Pierre is only possible with your support! Your dollars go toward helping members get to the Capitol to testify, mailing our newsletters and updates, and covering the day-to-day expenses of keeping our lobbyist right where the action is. Invest in our legislative fund today!

DRA Weekly Legislative Update

There’s a lot on our plates for next week–and this weekend is a good time for you to get in touch with your legislators at Cracker Barrels and Coffees or down at the local cafe!

CAFO, Water Use Permit, and Aerial Applicator Bills Scheduled Next Week!

At LEAST four bills we’re watching are scheduled in committee next Tuesday the 6th, and we’ve got ONE lobbyist. If you’re thinking of making a trip to Pierre to testify, you’ve got your “pick of the litter” on which bill to choose from.

Let Rebecca know you’re coming (rebeccat@dakotarural.org) and we’ll coordinate testimony.

  • Requiring Notice & Hearing for Temporary Water Use Permits (HB 1225) will be heard in House Ag, Room 464, at 7:45am
  • Manure Pipes in Ditches (HB 1184)–a huge breach of private property rights–in House Transportation, Room 413, at 10:00am
  • A bill to require certain reports in the event of an oil spill (SB 163) is scheduled in Senate Commerce & Energy, Room 423, at 10:00am
  • New Rules for Aerial Applicators–Senate Bill 179 seeks to remedy a stunning lack of regulations regarding the aerial application of pesticides. It will be heard in Senate Ag Committee, Room 412, at 10:00am

A few of the members attending DRA’s Lobby Days listening in committee

Buffer Bill Win This Week!

We saw a win this week on expansion of the Buffer Bill program (HB 1119) to allow counties to add waterways to the program. This bill was deferred from its initial hearing in order to amend the language so that counties must add the waterways by resolution, which creates an avenue for citizen appeal of those decisions. It passed House Local Government Committee and a unanimous vote, and was placed on the consent calendar for passage on the House floor.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Bill Sponsored!

DRA’s Community Energy Development (CED) Committee has worked hard to bring a solid piece of legislation to the 2018 session. We have that in House Bill 1301, which has been assigned to the House Commerce & Energy Committee (but not scheduled as of this writing).

Property Assessed Clean Energy is a program utilized by several states to finance the cost of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on commercial properties, utilizing capital from local banks and investors and local workers to complete the projects. The property owner pays back the PACE financing as an assessment on the property. For more information on the program, visit https://www.sd-pace.org/.

Initiative & Referendum Attacks Keep Piling On

It’s clear that we’re past any pretense that this tidal wave of bills is designed to improve the process of direct democracy. Clearly, it’s about making the process more difficult, time-consuming, and unwieldy for citizens exercising their constitutional right to initiative and referendum.

HB 1196 requires petition circulators to submit information on (among other things) their last three residential addresses, what town their library card is from, where their immediate family lives, and whether their cell phone has a (605) area code. The bill passed out of committee, but with Reps. Hawley, Bartling, Lust, and Rhoden voting “no.” Representative Lust in his remarks called the bill a “terrible overreach,” a “litigator’s dream,” and “way off the rails.” Contact your Representatives because this will move to the House floor next week.

HB 1177 as initially drafted would have required all petition circulators to provide their home address to all those who asked for it. This presented serious safety and privacy issues. It was amended to remove the residential address, though two committee members opposed that change. It passed out of committee and will go to the full House.

Newly-filed House Bill 1275 is another bad idea that has risen from the grave of last session. It changes initiated measure petition circulation requirements from not less than 5% of qualified electors in the state to not less than 5% of electors in ⅔ of senate districts. While in some cases, this might cause the overall required number of signatures to go down, the logistical nightmare of accounting for each district creates a greater burden than current statute.

HB 1275 further requires that any petition circulator must have resided in the specific senate district they’re gathering signatures in for not less than ninety days. Minnehaha County alone contains parts of eight senate districts. Pennington County has five, and the cities of Brookings, Watertown, and Aberdeen are in separate districts from their surrounding counties. If this were made law, a circulator could break it simply by crossing the wrong street.

That’s not the last of a long list of bills undermining the initiative and referendum process. You can contact us for a full list and read through all the details, but what matters most is to send a clear message to legislators to Stop Undermining the People’s Process!

DRA Lobby Days 2018!

Nearly twenty members showed up for DRA’s Lobby Days on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Our pre-lobby day social at Mad Mary’s featured an overview of issues and bills we’re working on, followed by a visit by District 26 Senator Troy Heinert to give us the “lay of the land” this legislative session.

We reconvened the next morning at 7:15am and headed up to the House and Senate floors, talking to elected officials about the issues that matter to our members, and later went up to committee hearings, where our presence caused at least one bill to be tabled when the bill’s sponsor realized his pitch was likely destined for failure!

Our Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) conversation was held in the Capitol Cafeteria over lunch, and several legislators took the time to talk with Community Energy Development Committee and other members about our issues and our bill. Those discussions ultimately led to our finding the sponsorship we were seeking. At the same time, the Braveheart Society’s Solar Power Trailer was parked in front of the Capitol, and legislators and others (including PUC Commissioner Chris Nelson) received a guided tour.

It was a great time and a great learning experience for all members and staff who attended! If you weren’t there, make sure to put it on your “To-Do” list for next year!

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DRA Weekly Legislative Update

FULL FRONTAL ATTACK ON INITIATIVE & REFERENDUM

If you thought the Summer Task Force bills were bad, wait until you see what else is in store for this legislative session.

This week, House Bill 1006 passed its final legislative hurdle. This bill, which curtails the ability of citizens to get their initiatives reviewed by the Legislative Research Council (LRC) for up to 4 ½ months out of the year, passed the Senate floor on Thursday by a 21-11 vote.

Those who testified in support of the bill said that the “blackout period” for citizen initiative review was needed during the busy legislative session because of understaffing at the LRC and the heavy workload they experience from legislator bills. Curiously, many of those who supported this too-heavy-workload rationale have also signed on in support of at least one frivolous bill (which the LRC is also required to prepare)–that chislic be designated as the official state “nosh.”

Sen. Jim Bolin (R-Canton) testified in support of SJR 1 and HB 1006 in the Senate this week

Dakota Rural Action and SD Citizens for Liberty joined forces in testifying against the bill in Senate State Affairs Committee, and we came close to a “compromise” amendment shortening that blackout period. Senator Sutton offered the amendment which several committee members, the Director of the LRC, and even the bill’s bi-partisan sponsors supported, but the deal blew up when Senator Curd offered a substitute motion to pass the bill as it was.

Senate Joint Resolution 1 passed its house of origin this week as well. SJR 1 raises the threshold for citizen ratification of constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 55%. The rationale behind this legislation (according to its sponsor, Senator Jim Bolin) is that we must “protect the Constitution” against out of state influences by making it harder to pass amendments.

However, as DRA members and other noted in their many calls and emails on this issue–putting in place a higher vote threshold does not stop out of state influences and out of state money from influencing our process–in fact, it means that those grassroots groups with fewer dollars will be at a disadvantage against big-money interests that can throw hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertising to pitch their message to voters and attain that higher threshold. As it stands, citizens who wish to initiate an amendment to the constitution must gather 28,000 valid signatures (so, closer to 40,000 actual signatures) to place the issue on the ballot, whereas legislators wishing to amend simply need to convince a majority of their own body–18 votes in the Senate and 53 in the House–to vote for it.

Thankfully, all proposed constitutional amendments coming from the legislature are required to go to a vote of the people. And although we’ve heard complaints about “ballot clutter” from citizen-initiated measures, legislators have thusfar filed no less than twelve resolutions to put constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot. Some of them are very concerning, including Rep. Mickelson’s HJR 1007, which proposes to entirely remove the right of citizens to initiate amendments to the constitution. Rep. Pischke’s HJR 1008 proposes that all citizen-initiated amendments to the constitution are required to be approved by the legislature if enacted by the people. If passed, this change would mean that a constitutional amendment approved –even by 70% or more of the voters–could simply be thrown out by a simple majority no vote of the legislature.

There are many more bills and resolutions attacking the initiative and referendum process that have been filed in the last 48 hours. Fighting them all individually is a tough task. Dividing our resources by filing numerous bills (including the HB 1007 “bombshell”) is likely the strategy of those who wish to undermine the process.

We need to send a clear message to ALL our legislators that attacks on the citizens’ right to initiate and refer laws will NOT BE TOLERATED–not now, and not at the ballot box in November.

A COUPLE OF OUR WINS THIS WEEK
We pushed for an amendment to HB 1005 in House State Affairs Committee, which sailed through in the first week of session. This bill simplifies ballot recitation language for initiated laws and constitutional amendments as well as referred laws in order to prevent biased language on the ballot. However, the recitation for referred laws was backward–voters would vote “no” to say yes to a law and “yes” to reject the law. Thankfully, our message finally percolated through, the bill was pulled from the House floor, and it came back with amended language and passed this week.

We opposed the Department of Agriculture’s attempt to repeal the Oil & Gas and Drainage Dispute Mediation Programs (SB 33) in Senate Ag Committee this week. While this program has not been utilized much in the few years since its inception, with new oil & gas exploration starting up as the price rises, it would be foolish to throw out a program that saves people money and keeps them out of court when possible. The repeal failed by a unanimous vote.

BILLS TO WATCH
In addition to the load of bills attacking the initiative & referendum process, there are other issues that are popping up on our radar.

House Bill 1184 would allow the laying of manure pipes along and under highways. This is a direct assault on landowner rights–in most cases, landowners own and pay taxes on land to the middle of the road or right-of-way. While utilities and other public entities use that right-of-way to provide public services, this bill provides for private entities (primarily Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs) to use that right-of-way for private gain. That means landowners would have no say about manure pipes in ditches on their own property. HB 1184 is assigned to the House Transportation Committee, but has not yet been scheduled. If this issue matters to you, start contacting members of that committee now.

On a positive note, House Bill 1225 provides for public notice and hearing on temporary water use permits. This bill comes out of concerns particularly in the western part of the state that mining company exploratory permits and the water use that goes along with them are receiving little to no public input or oversight.

There are also several newly-introduced bills regarding wind energy that members interested in this issue should take a look at. These include House Bills 1234 and 1235, which provide for pre-construction and decommissioning rules for wind energy facilities, Senate Bill 127, which revises requirements for proposed wind energy facility applicants, and House Bill 1164, revising requirements on energy conversion and transmission facility permitting.

All sitting legislators received a copy of DRA’s Lobby Day announcement this week–right on their seats!

 

SHOW UP AND GET INVOLVED!
Have you registered for DRA’s Lobby Day? We’d love to see you this coming Monday night, January 29th (pre-lobby day training) and Tuesday, January 30th.

We don’t know you’re coming if you don’t tell us, so please sign up by clicking HERE.

You can also come to Pierre anytime during the session–there are a lot of bills and a lot of potential for testifying on issues that matter to you. Citizen voices always carry weight! Let Rebecca know you’re planning to show up by calling (605) 697-5204 x260 or email rebeccat@dakotarural.org.

 

GIVE TO OUR LEGISLATIVE FUND!
Who said the election year session was going to be mellow? We’re busier than ever! And, we need your help to keep us on top of fast-moving legislation. Throw a few bucks (or several!) into our legislative fund today.

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