South Dakota Legislative Update - Feb. 23, 2021

Environment
Farm and Food
Small Business
Small Towns

Today is Day 26 of South Dakota’s 37-day legislative session.

This Thursday, Feb. 26,  is considered “Crossover Day,” the last day to pass bills out of their house of origin. The last date for bills to pass both houses is March 8.

We welcome your input. Feel free to be in touch about these or any other bills you feel are important to rural communities by emailing Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher at heidiku@cfra.org.  

Here are the bills we are following: 
 

Food and agriculture

House Bill 1219—Support: This bill introduced by Rep. Spencer Gosch would enact an Interstate Meatpacking Compact that would allow state-inspected meat to be sold across state lines if that state is also a member of the compact. Current law allows only federally inspected meat to be sold across state lines. This would open up new markets for livestock producers using state-inspected facilities, which are often located in more rural areas.
HB1219 was introduced through a “vehicle bill,” in which the language in a bill is intentionally left empty and “hoghoused” (or replaced completely) at a later date. As such, the details of the bill can be found in the bill’s amendment, 1219A.

HB 1219 was heard Feb. 23 by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 1121—Support: This bill introduced by Rep. Marli Wiese establishes criteria governing the sale of homemade food items. HB 1121 makes changes to the state’s “home processed foods law,” which allows for the sale of shelf-stable baked and canned goods without a license. HB 1121 expands the list of homemade food items that can be sold directly to consumers to include both temperature-controlled and shelf-stable goods. Additionally, non-temperature-controlled homemade food items could be sold at retail and grocery stores. The bill removes the third-party process verification requirement from homemade canned goods. Producers are exempt from licensing requirements as long as their annual gross revenue from selling homemade food items does not exceed $150,000.

HB 1121 was heard Feb. 23 in the House Local Government Committee. The Center submitted a supportive comment. A proposed amendment to the bill that makes several changes, including keeping the third-party processing requirement for canned goods, has been requested by Rep. Wiese. 

HB 1040—Support: Brought at the request of the Department of Agriculture, the bill would make an appropriation to fund certain small meat processor grants and to declare an emergency. COVID-19 has caused disruptions in the meat processing industry, creating a backlog at many local meat processors. This bill allocates $5 million to create a grant program that would allow meat processors to expand their processing capabilities through infrastructure improvements. This Meat Processing Grants Program One-Pager provides an overview of the program.

HB 1040 was heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Jan. 28. The Center submitted a supportive comment. There was significant proponent testimony on the bill and no one testified in opposition. It passed 13-0 and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Appropriations on Feb. 23 at 10:30 a.m.

HB 1042—Support: This bill was brought at the request of the Department of Natural Resources and would revise certain provisions regarding riparian buffer strips. HB 1042 decreases the assessed agricultural income value of land classified as a riparian buffer strip from 60% to 50% and changes the application requirement from annual to once every 10 years.

HB 1042 received unanimous support in both the House and Senate committees and floor votes. It was noted in testimony that the intent of this bill is to increase sign-ups in the buffer strip program. Only 1,000 acres are enrolled, but 13,000 acres are available to be enrolled. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.
 

Economic and community development

Senate Bill (SB) 34—Support: Brought at the request of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the bill would make an appropriation to expand rural access to broadband services and to declare an emergency. SB 34 allocates $100 million dollars toward building out broadband infrastructure in the state, giving priority to projects that leverage existing investment and infrastructure, serve locations without high-speed internet, and serve the most number of customers. Many rural South Dakotans lack adequate internet access, making this program an important investment for rural communities. 

SB 34 was heard in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee on Jan. 26. The Center submitted a supportive comment. During testimony it was noted that 135,000 South Dakotans lack adequate broadband access and that the investment made through this bill could potentially shore up gaps in broadband access across the state. There was no testimony in opposition, and the bill passed unanimously. A hearing is scheduled in the Joint Committee on Appropriations on Feb. 25 at 8 a.m.
 
HB 1077—Support: This bill was brought at the request of the governor’s office and would provide for licensure by endorsement for certain licensed professionals and occupations. In March, Gov. Kristi Noem issued Executive Order 2020-07, which allowed for greater flexibility for health care professionals as part of COVID-19 response. HB 1077 is an extension of that order and makes permanent the recognition of out-of-state licenses for certain medical professionals. 

HB 1077 was heard in the House State Affairs committee on Jan. 27 and passed unopposed. It passed the House floor with a vote of 67-3, received unanimous support in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee, and then passed the Senate floor with a vote of 34-1. It now awaits the governor’s signature.
 

Energy and environment

HB 1053—Neutral: This bill introduced by Rep. Mark Willadsen establishes an annual fee for certain electric motor vehicles. HB 1053 creates an annual fee of $100 for electric motor vehicles to offset the lost funds that are normally generated through the gas tax, collected in the state’s highway maintenance fund, and used for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. The state gas tax is 28 cents/gallon, which means the $100 annual fee for electric vehicles is equivalent to the tax paid on 357 gallons of gas. 

HB 1053 was heard in the House Transportation Committee on Jan. 28. The bill was amended to decrease the annual fee from $100 to $50 and passed unopposed. It was then debated on the House floor on Feb. 2 and passed 51-18. It passed the Senate Transportation Committee on Feb. 17 with a vote of 6-1 and is being heard on the Senate floor on Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.

Advocacy resources

Here are few resources to help empower you to advocate for the issues you care about: 
How to be a rural advocate
Engaging with the South Dakota Legislature
Remote testifying allowed at 2021 legislative session

Upcoming Legislative forums:

Districts 11, 15, and 25 Legislative Coffee, Feb. 27, hosted by Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce
District 18 Legislative Cracker Barrel, Feb. 27, hosted by Yankton Area Chamber of Commerce
Districts 32, 33, 34, and 35 Cracker Barrels, Feb. 27 and Mar. 6, hosted by Elevate Rapid City 
Districts 1, 2, and 3 Legislative Cracker Barrels, Mar. 6, hosted by Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce

Fun Fact

Legend has it that 66 Italian artists laying the Terrazzo floors at the Capitol building were each given a blue tile to place as their signature stone. To this date 57, have been found.