Last-Minute PUC Hoghouse Removes Public Hearings from Permitting


Senate Bill 15 started out as a simple proposed change in the timeline for wind energy facility permitting from six months to one year. After intense opposition from corporate wind developer lobbyists and the Governor’s office, Senate Commerce & Energy Committee members deferred action on the bill to give the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) time to “work out their differences” with opponents.

The “hoghouse amendment” handed to committee members on the last possible day contains 7+ pages of language that seriously undermines the ability of citizens and organizations to participate effectively in the permitting process. Despite strong opposition by a few legislators who were handed this new and alarming language only minutes before being expected to vote on it, the bill passed out of committee on a 5-2 vote.

Voted FOR the hoghoused bill: Senators Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls), Jeff Monroe (R-Pierre), Al Novstrup (R-Aberdeen), Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown), and Jim Stalzer (R-Sioux Falls). You might ask these Senators if they

Voted AGAINST the hoghoused bill: Senators Craig Kennedy (D-Yankton) and Stace Nelson (R-Fulton)

Read the text of the Hoghoused Bill here:

This bill will be heard on the Senate Floor on Monday of next week. It may be pitched as a “fix” to an earlier solar energy bill that was vetoed by the Governor. However, legislators need to know that SB15 is a “Sneak Attack” on public and organizational participation in the permitting process–and they need to know that right away!

It is IMPERATIVE that this bill be defeated!

Call or email YOUR Senator and Tell Them to Vote NO on SB 15 on the Floor!

Two Good Water Bills Go Down the Drain in Committee

House Bills 1239 and 1240 were crafted to allow for better local participation in decisions on water permits by the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) Water Management Board. The bills stated that, in cases where permits may impact the quality and quantity of local water supplies, county, municipal, or tribal governments could request that the water permit hearing be held in their county or municipality.

Although the bills did not seek to give veto power to those local government entities, and despite the fact that the Water Management Board has, on occasion, held permit hearings in impacted communities, the bills were defeated in House Ag & Natural Resources Committee on Thursday morning. Members of DRA’s Black Hills Chapter, representatives from Tribal Governments and the Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance, and members of Clean Water Alliance testified in favor of the bills.

Second Committee Concurs: Ordinances Online Must Be Up-To-Date

Senate Local Government Committee agreed with bill sponsor and District 18 Rep. Ryan Cwach that if a county or municipality posts its ordinances online, those ordinances should be current. House Bill 1215 has already passed House Local Government Committee, as well as receiving broad support on the House Floor.

The bill came out of citizen confusion and legal issues arising in Yankton County regarding the online version of their zoning ordinance. Residents relied upon that medium for information around the permitting of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and later learned that the online version was woefully out-of-date. In the process of hearings, we have heard from citizens in several other counties that the out-of-date online ordinance problem is widespread and in need of remedy. The bill now moves to the Senate Floor for a final vote before heading to the Governor’s desk.

Crossover Day Monday–Session Ends in 2 ½ Weeks

Monday, February 25th is “crossover day” for the 2019 South Dakota Legislative Session. You may have noticed the last two weeks have been a flurry of activity at the Capitol (and in media reports of what’s going on in Pierre). That’s because as of the end of the night on Monday, all House Bills (HB) not tabled or sent to 41st Day must be passed out of the House, and all Senate Bills (SB) not tabled or killed must have passed out of the Senate.

Thereafter, you’ll see remaining Senate Bills (SB) being debated in House Committees and House Bills (HB) debated on the Senate side. The next big deadline is March 6th, when all those still-remaining bills must have had their second committee hearing and be delivered to the floor of their second house.

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