Dakota Rural Action
Weekly Legislative Update
Session Week One 
January 14, 2022

Let the Session Begin!

The 2022 Legislative Session opened on Tuesday, January 11th with the Governor’s State of the State address. Although DRA’s staff lobbyist was unable to attend in person due to a Covid infection, he made the drive early Thursday morning for an unannounced presentation from Summit Carbon Solutions. They presented their carbon pipeline project to the Senate Commerce and Energy committee after Public Utilities Commission Chairman, Chris Nelson, gave an overview of pipeline siting and permitting. We would not have known the presentation was planned without being tipped off the night before, since it was not listed on the committee agenda. We are off and running already!

One of the main emphases of DRA’s lobbying is to provide updates and action alerts to our members throughout the state in order to keep you informed and involved in the legislative proceedings. Unfortunately, there are currently no COVID precautions or protocols in place at the Capitol. There is already at least one legislator who has tested positive for the virus, and I cannot imagine that we will have a full session without interruption from sickness. As we look for ways to have members involved and present in Pierre, we will prioritize safety and caution for all involved. It does appear that some committee chairs are actively encouraging remote testimony, which usually involves emailing the committee at least 24 hours in advance to receive a Microsoft Teams link or call-in number.

Bill Tracking

As of Thursday evening, there are already 69 house bills and 84 senate bills filed. You can view these bills on the Legislative Research Council website (https://sdlegislature.gov). So far there are a significant number of cannabis-related bills and appropriations. We are tracking HB 1049, an appropriation for a shooting range outside of Rapid City which has been declared an emergency, meaning that if it passes it would go into effect immediately. We have had landowners who live right next door to the site reach out with concerns about safety and potential environmental impacts. We hope that environmental impact studies would be undergone before money was set aside to fund the project!

We are also watching bills regarding solar projects and biogas pipelines, which are currently projected to set aside funds for removal of solar projects at the end of their lifetimes, and to increase pipeline safety regulations. There are many bills surrounding appropriations for water projects, and we are actively sifting through them for hints of a project we’ve heard about that will seek to pipe water from the Missouri River westward. 

Of particular note are bills SB 69, which is to ‘provide for an electronic system to update voter registration information,’ as well as HB 1055 to ‘require informational transparency regarding the issuance of executive orders’. We could certainly use more accessibility surrounding voter registration, and clearly legislators feel a need to rein in the office of the governor in regard to executive orders. It will be interesting to see how these play out.

Legislative Committee Watching for Several Bills

We had a half dozen or so bills on our watch list as of this Thursday, but no doubt that will expand greatly as we move further into the session. DRA members interested in participating in the Legislative Committee are encouraged to contact Lobbyist Chase Jensen. We meet every Thursday afternoon by phone at 6:30pm CT (5:30pm MT) during the session to go over bills we’re watching, negotiations we’re involved in, and strategy on various issues. 

Contact Lobbyist Chase Jensen at chase@dakotarural.org or call (605) 697-5204 x250 with questions or to serve on the legislative committee.

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Thank you!