The South Dakota Legislature concluded its fifth week of session Thursday with one of the heaviest legislative loads most of the current legislators have ever experienced. Currently there are over 500 bills that have been submitted for consideration which is among the largest number of bills in over a decade.
• HB 1070, a 65-page measure to revise and repeal certain provisions regarding alcoholic beverage laws, many of which are considered antiquated and unenforceable, passed the House of Representatives this week on a 63-5 vote. The ‘liquor law reform bill’ enjoyed unanimous support in committee last week, and is expected to easily move through the State Senate in coming days.
• HB 1157 authorizes alcohol manufacturers and wholesalers to enter into certain licensing agreements with certain alcohol retail licenses. This was a state practice for many years, but a recent interpretation of the law did not allow for it. This bill passed the House Judiciary Committee 11-1 and passed the House Floor 40-27.
• HB 1219 allows sportsmen to use night vision when hunting. However, they may only use certain kinds of ammunition and must receive written permission from the landowner. This bill passed House Agricultural and Natural Resources 10-2 and passed the House Floor 46-21.
• HB 1190 revise the time period for which certain motor vehicle plates are used. Instead of issuing new license plates every 5 years, this changes it to 10 years. The reason for the change is savings to the state of roughly 6 million dollars for the roads and bridges fund. This bill passed House Transportation 9-4 and passed the House on a vote of 41-27.
• HB 1250, a measure to raise South Dakota’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21 passed House Health and Human Services 8-4. The matter is still pending, as a fiscal note was requested. This bill will likely be voted on by the entire house chamber early next week.
• HJR 1001 would change the current law regarding legislator pay and amend the Constitution to make it one fifth of median South Dakota pay. This resolution would submit the issue to the ballot for the voters to approve the change. This resolution passed out of House State Affairs 9-3 and passed the House floor as amended 38-26. HJR 1001 was referred to Senate State Affairs and will be heard next week.
• House Bill 1071 moved through both the State House and the Senate at a rapid pace, with the unusual step of the Senate suspending committee assignment after the House heard it as part of the joint appropriations process. The bill to authorize the relocation of the School for the Blind and the Visually Impaired and transfer of its existing real estate and facilities to Northern State University passed the Senate on a 34-1 vote. This measure will provide for the construction of a new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which will cost an estimated $13.6 million, but will be paid for through private donations.
• SB 137 changes the minimum hunting age in South Dakota from ten years old and effectively leaves the matter to parental discretion. The child must be hunting with a parent or a “hunting mentor.” A hunting mentor is the child’s parent or guardian or any other competent adult who has the written consent of the child’s parent or guardian. The hunting mentor shall be a resident of this state, shall be unarmed except as provided in this section, shall have successfully completed a hunter safety or hunter education course and they must also have a license for the game being hunted. This bill passed Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources 9-0 and passed the Senate Floor 30-4.
• SB 50 allows for the construction of the American Indian Student center at South Dakota State University and allows for an appropriation. SB 50 passed the Joint Committee on Appropriations without opposition and passed the Senate Floor 28-6.
• SB 54 to provide additional funds to counties to pay for extraordinary litigation expenses on an emergency basis passed the Senate 25-9, and now moves to the House. This fund assists counties with the cost of prosecuting criminals, and the additional appropriation reflects higher than anticipated expenses in the current fiscal year.
• House Bill 1043 was passed unanimously by the State Senate 35-0 to provide for the construction of a National Guard Readiness Center at the Rapid City Airport. This represents the first installment of $500,00o to help fund the construction of a $20 million building next to the Guard’s existing Army Aviation Support Facility at Rapid City Regional Airport. The state’s ultimate share of the project cost is expected to be $5 million, while $15 million in federal funding has already been secured.
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