Session Week Three 

Industrial Hemp Bill Deferred for Final Edits

This year’s Industrial Hemp licensing, production, and transportation bill (HB 1008) wasn’t quite in its final form on Thursday morning when it was scheduled for its first hearing. Instead of deferring, House Ag & Natural Resources Committee Chair Thomas Brunner kept it on the agenda to allow for discussion of what the final amendment would contain.

Prime sponsor Lee Qualm, along with co-sponsor (last year’s prime) Oren Lesmeister talked about the Hemp Summer Study and trips to Kentucky and North Dakota to talk with Ag & Law Enforcement officials on best practices and pitfalls. After discussion with the Governor’s office, there appears to be consensus on the bill’s final form–and that is likely to be heard next week.

Some features of this year’s bill include:

  • Two types of transportation licenses–one for OTR haulers and one for farmers needing to get the crop out of the field
  • Farmer transport licenses will be “automatic” with a grow license
  • Licensing will be on a 15-month cycle, to allow for farmers who may decide not to grow two years in a row, but who have product left to transport from a previous year
  • Licensing requires a background check, but if an applicant has a current one (e.g. if they are a bus driver), that can fulfill the requirement
  • Farm managers/Boards of LLCs will be required to be licensed; custom harvesters and “your grandkids” helping plant will not
  • A grow license will require at least 5 contiguous acres; no indoor growing will be allowed

The bill is scheduled for its official hearing (where the “final” amendment will be adopted) on Tuesday, Feb. 4th.

Riot Booster Re-Boot

This week, Governor Noem’s office released the bill (HB 1117) that purports to address the problems with last year’s rammed-through “Riot Booster” bill, the bulk of which was enjoined as likely unconstitutional by Federal Judge Lawrence Piersol this summer in his preliminary decision on DRA v. Noem. That case was settled by the state, costing taxpayers over one hundred thousand dollars to defend a position that was, as we and others warned, unlikely to stand up to judicial scrutiny.

While on its face, the new bill appears to thread the constitutional needle, serious issues remain regarding enforcement (another First Amendment question) and the simple question of, what does “Riot Boosting” actually mean? Could a person be charged with a riot-related crime while sitting on their couch in their pajamas, urging people through social media to stop the pipeline?

Anything approaching that scenario is again likely to be held unconstitutional, and that leads to the question, how much do South Dakota taxpayers want to spend defending their First Amendment rights against their own government? “Riot Booster 2.0” is likely to be heard in House State Affairs Committee late next week, or early the following week.

Also filed this week: HB 1093, a State Tribal Relations Committee bill that would establish a tar sands pipeline liability fund, paid into by pipeline companies, to cover extraordinary expenses related to losses for businesses, local and tribal governments, and other entities in the event of a spill. The bill has been assigned to Joint Appropriations, and will likely be heard next week.

Ban on Plastic Bag Bans Survives Senate Floor

The debate about whether to allow the state to preempt local decision-making on the use of “auxiliary containers” (which includes plastic bags, styrofoam cups & takeout containers, plastic straws, etc.) went to the floor on Thursday afternoon.

Spirited discussion on SB 54 sparked Senate President Pro Tempore Brock Greenfield (D2) to compare it to a wide range of subjects–including linking a “no” vote to curtailment of gun rights and legalization of recreational marijuana. Greenfield then asked if the legislature should “bend over” to the wishes of communities across the state–indicating that Senators had received a LOT of contacts urging them to vote against this bill, and he was urging them to ignore those messages about preserving local control.

Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert (D26) responded, saying it would take a “big plastic bag” to cram stances on all those issues into a decision on this bill, and asking fellow legislators to vote “no” and respect young people’s role in moving toward a greener environment. The bill passed the Senate Floor on a 22-12 vote, and will move next to House Commerce & Energy Committee–likely in the coming week.

Make Reservations Now! Citizen Lobby Day Feb 24

Get ready for Citizen Lobby Day on Monday, February 24th!

  • Member gathering & citizen lobby training Sunday, Feb. 23rd 6-8pm at Red Rossa
  • DRA Citizen Lobby Day Monday, Feb. 24 at the Capitol
  • Legislative Mixer Monday 6-8pm featuring local food appetizers at Drifters Bar & Grille.

A room block is reserved at the Governor’s Inn–call (605) 224-4200. 
Make your reservation now!

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