A packed room for Riot Booster 2.0 first hearing in House State Affairs

Riot Booster 2.0 Heads to House Floor

Wednesday morning’s hearing in House State Affairs provided echoes of last year’s rush job on the original Riot Booster legislation. Despite the packed room, testimony on House Bill 1117 was limited to twenty minutes for each side, which curtailed the ability for plaintiffs in last summer’s court case and at least one tribal leader who’d made the trip to speak on their opposition to the bill.

Governor Noem’s staff testified to an ”open and transparent process” wherein “concerned parties” were provided copies of the draft bill and opportunity for input. However, organizations involved in the suit over the initial Riot Booster legislation were not contacted. While the bill does “clean up” some of the unconstitutional language that was enjoined by the courts, it goes further in once again attempting to enshrine “riot boosting” as a crime with civil penalties.

Riot and Incitement to Riot are illegal now, and will continue to be illegal once this bill is defeated. Attempting to create a new class of crime related to protest and free speech creates a chilling effect on exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms when no one seems to clearly understand what constitutes “riot boosting.”

The bill was scheduled for a House floor vote on Thursday, but was deferred to Tuesday’s calendar. Contact your Representatives and ask them to vote NO.


Plastic Preemption Bill Fails Floor Vote; Intent to Reconsider

Local control still lives–at least on the House floor. On Thursday, legislators voted down Senate Bill 54 that would block municipalities from instituting any kind of ban on single use containers, such as styrofoam cups and boxes, plastic bags, or other single use items.

Despite the sponsors’ entreaties that this bill is all about rural people being able to get a to-go beverage when they visit the “big town,” preemption bans like this one are being pushed by the “Progressive Bag Alliance,” a lobbying group representing plastic bag manufacturers trying to hold on to their market share as consumers and communities shift away from the non-biodegradable containers that are filling up landfills and clogging up waterways–especially now that the bottom has fallen out of the market for plastic recycling.

The bill failed its “Do Pass” motion on a 30-33, but sponsors indicated their desire to reconsider during Tuesday’s floor session. Once again, this is a place where Representatives should be encouraged to vote NO and leave these decisions to the local communities who are ultimately responsible for dealing with the waste these items generate.

Home Bakeries Bill Removes 5K Earnings Cap

House Bill 1125 updates provisions of the original Home Processed Foods Law, drafted by DRA members in concert with Ag & Health Departments a decade ago. Specifically, this bill would remove the current five thousand dollar-per-year earnings cap on sales of non-temperature-controlled baked goods without a license, as well as allowing sales directly from the home rather than only at farmers markets and roadside stands.

We see this as a good bill to help entrepreneurs build a solid market before launching into a larger operation, as well as supporting cottage industry that provides extra income for households. HB 1125 will be up for its first committee hearing on Wednesday morning in House Commerce & Energy Committee.

County Zoning Bill Scheduled Wednesday–Calls & Emails Needed NOW

Governor Noem’s bill to undermine public input in county permitting decisions in up for its first hearing on Wednesday, February 19 in Senate State Affairs Committee. Senate Bill 157 would create a class of “special permitted uses” that would circumvent the public notice and hearing typically required for Conditional Uses.

Those uses can include everything from CAFOs to transmission lines, mining to man camps–and this new “streamlined” approval means a project could be approved by an un-elected administrator with no notice to neighbors. Additionally, any appeal of those decisions would require the appealing party to post a bond (pay-to-play) and to potentially be liable for the opposition’s attorney fees and “damages” if they lose.

Additionally, the Governor’s bill seeks to mandate a simple majority of members present on permitting decisions–but any reconsideration of those decisions by boards would require a supermajority of all members.

This is a disastrous bill that strikes at the heart of local control and county’s authority and responsibility to make those decisions that stand to most directly impact the health, safety, and welfare of their own residents. It also cuts the public out of the decision-making process that stands to impact them directly, and sets up a “pay to play” system where only the wealthy dare to contest a decision.

Contact Senate State Affairs Committee members and tell them to OPPOSE this bill.


Registration is OPEN for DRA Citizen Lobby Day!

Preview the schedule and RSVP by clicking on the link HERE or contact Jordan at jordan@dakotarural.org or call (605) 697-5204 x250

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