Senate Passes Riot Booster 2.0; Hoghouses Another Bill to “Fix” It

Tuesday night’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on House Bill 1117, this year’s “Riot Booster” bill, included testimony from seven proponents and over a dozen opponents. The Governor’s office claimed this bill was simply a fix to previous statutes as laid out in Judge Lawrence Piersol’s ruling last summer, enjoining most provisions of the first Riot Booster bill, along with other, existing riot statutes that did not pass constitutional muster.

After over two hours worth of testimony, the bill passed committee on a 6-1 vote around 9:30 that night, and headed to the Senate floor Thursday. However, concerns raised by opponents of the bill made their way into a hoghouse of a second bill in Senate Commerce & Energy Committee on Thursday morning. House Bill 1199 was originally a bill about electrical utilities, and passed both its House committee and the House floor earlier in session. When it showed up in Senate Committee yesterday, it was stripped of its contents and entirely new language inserted as a way to “fix” problems in the Governor’s Riot Booster bill–including removing all references to the undefined term “riot boosting.”

That bill passed committee and heads to the Senate floor Monday, after which the House will have to concur with the Senate’s changes. When questioned by Senator Monroe about hoghousing a bill that seems to have nothing in common with Riot Boosting, Schoenbeck responded the two bills are both “energy policy” bills–a recognition that, in fact, Riot Booster has always been about the Keystone XL pipeline despite claims to the contrary.

During Senate floor debate on HB 1117 Thursday afternoon, prime sponsor Lee Schoenbeck made reference to the companion “fix” passed earlier that day, and proceeded to pitch the Riot Booster bill as helping South Dakota be “better prepared” than North Dakota in 2016.

Yankton Senator Craig Kennedy argued that the new Riot Booster bill is not as clear as Judge Piersol indicated it needs to be in order to pass constitutional muster. He also pointed out that this bill allows for a third party to take action for damages, and that Piersol recognized the previous bill was designed to benefit a specific pipeline company. Said Kennedy, “This bill isn’t any different,” and he asked Senators who they work for–a foreign pipeline company or the people of South Dakota.

Riot Booster (HB 1117) now goes to the Governor’s desk for her signature, and the “clean-up” bill (HB 1199) goes to the Senate floor Monday. The clean up bill is supportable in some ways, as it removes references to “Riot Boosting,” but Senators should be directed to clean up vague language regarding incitement and to look closely at who can bring actions (not third parties) and what kind of damage constitutes a felony offense. Representative Rounds noted in his House floor remarks that a broken fencepost could lead to ten years in prison–that kind of outrageous scenario needs to go. Contact Senators HERE, or consult your DRA Legislative guide.

Senate Bill 151–The “Critical Infrastructure” Bill–Up Monday

This bill was brought to our state through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which legislators and corporate members have been fleeing for a number of years due to the highly controversial and potentially unconstitutional nature of the “model” bills they push. SB 151 (read HERE) will be up for a House floor vote on Monday.

It adds pipelines, pipeyards, and related infrastructure to a list of “critical infrastructure” and creates enhanced penalties (felonies) for tampering or disrupting in any way the construction, maintenance, or operation of those facilities. It’s important to understand that tampering with infrastructure we rely on for basic services is already a crime–this bill targets protest and non-violent direct action against the Keystone XL pipeline. Contact your Reps to urge a NO vote on this unnecessary bill.

County Zoning Bill Moves to House Floor MONDAY

Senate Bill 157 is an industry bill that undermines local decision-making on the County permitting process. While the Governor and her industry backers have repeatedly testified that the bill simply “streamlines the process” but protects local control, many county decision-makers see the process differently, and several showed up to testify against the bill in committee last week.

Unfortunately, a call-in testifier used up half the time allotted for opponents (DRA’s lobbyist ultimately asked the committee chair to intervene). That lengthy testimony cut into the ability for those who travelled to make their case. That said, you can still affect the outcome on this bill on the House floor by contacting your Representatives TODAY and over the weekend. Use below talking points for assistance in your messaging.

Here are some specific problems with SB 157 [Bill Sections indicated in brackets]

SB 157 undermines local control in the following ways: 

  • Removes the supermajority vote option for conditional use permits (currently counties have option of simple or supermajority) and forces a simple majority of members present vote on permits. [Sections Two & Six]
  • Nullifies counties’ ability to set their own expiration date for permits issued and sets in place an across-the-board standard of two years following the conclusion of an appeal–no matter how long that appeal process takes. [Section Fifteen]
  • REMOVES the vote on special permitted uses and forces administrative approval. [Sections 3 & 4]
  • Due to all of these changes, passage of the bill would force ALL counties with zoning to update their ordinances, adding a further burden to already overburdened counties.


SB 157 cuts people out of the democratic process in the following ways:

  • Entices counties to use a “special permitted use” process that is administratively approved–no public notice or hearing–undermining due process rights and increasing likelihood of strife among neighbors [Sections Three & Four]
  • Severely limits those who have standing to file an appeal–beyond what the courts have previously ruled [Section One]
  • Subjects those who do appeal to costs of preparing transcripts, which can run into the thousands of dollars [Section Eleven]
  • Subjects those who appeal and lose to paying attorneys fees of the winner (though if an appealing party wins, the county is exempt from paying) [Section Fourteen]

Click HERE to find out who your Representatives are, or check your DRA Legislative Guide.

Thank you for Taking Action!