March 8, 2019

John Harter, DRA Board Chair,, (605) 840-9478
Rebecca Terk, DRA Organizer & Lobbyist,, (605) 697-5204 x260
Frank James, DRA Director,, (605) 697-5204 x240

Anti-Free Speech Bills a Rush Job for Pipeline Company Benefit

Dakota Rural Action is disappointed in the passage of the Governor Noem’s anti-free speech bills Thursday. Senate bills 189 and 190 clearly put the profits of pipeline companies over the constitutional rights of South Dakotans.

The process of expediting these bills, which were falsely characterized as an “emergency,” required suspension of the rules in the one committee where they were heard less than forty-eight hours after their introduction, as well as suspension of rules on the House Floor, allowing them to be debated there and ultimately passed less than an hour after their passage on the Senate Floor.

DRA staff and members testified in committee, and well as communicating with legislators, that the rushed nature of these bills’ introduction and passage was unnecessary, and contradicts the Governor’s stated goal of a “peaceful build” of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Testimony and evidence presented to the Joint Appropriations Committee clearly showed that TransCanada is at least two to three years away from securing all the necessary local, state, and federal permits, easements, and agreements necessary to legally begin construction in this state–meaning that the Noem administration had more than adequate time to consult all interested stakeholders.

The fact that these poorly-conceived and hastily-constructed bills were rushed through the process without consultation with tribes and other clearly involved parties (including the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission–the agency responsible for the state permit) shows that this administration values the pipeline over the people.

Dakota Rural Action Board Chair John Harter stated Thursday that, “this whole mess could have easily been avoided. This pipeline is a long ways from being built, if it ever is, so there was no reason to rush these bills.”

“Talking to everyone involved would have made for better legislation. Protests aren’t riots, but the way these bills are written will encourage law enforcement and prosecutors to make that charge in order for the state to extort money for their new slush fund,” Harter added. “It would have been nice to see this kind of attention from the state about abuses of eminent domain by TransCanada, or to establish bonding to protect landowners from spills, as we tried to do for several years.”

Due to the clearly unconstitutional nature of these bills, it is likely that South Dakota taxpayers will bear the burden of defending this problematic legislation in court.