South Dakota Legislative Update - Feb. 9, 2021

Environment
Farm and Food
Small Towns

Welcome to the Pierre Review!

Today is Day 19 of South Dakota’s 37-day legislative session.

The last day for unlimited bill introduction was Thursday, Feb. 2, but it is possible we will see some additional legislation added after this date.

Below you’ll find some of the bills we are monitoring.

We welcome your input. Feel free to be in touch about these or any other bills you feel are important to rural communities. Please contact Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher, heidiku@cfra.org, for more information. 

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 the gaps in broadband access across the state. There was no opponent testimony and the bill passed unanimously. It has been referred to the Joint Committee on Appropriations. As of today, a hearing has not been scheduled.
 
House Bill (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 and will be heard in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee on Feb. 9 at 10 a.m.

Food and agriculture

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 currently 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 has been referred to the House Local Government Committee. As of today, a hearing has not been scheduled.

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 was sent to the House Committee on Appropriations. As of today, a hearing has not been scheduled.

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 was heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 2 and passed unanimously. It was debated on the House floor on Feb. 2 and passed unopposed. 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. As of today, a Senate committee hearing has not been scheduled.

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 has been referred next to the Senate Transportation Committee. As of today, a hearing date has not been scheduled.  

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

District 7 Legislative Forum, Feb. 13, hosted by Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce
Districts 1, 2, and 3 Legislative Cracker Barrels, Feb. 13, hosted by Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce
District 4 & 7 Legislative Forum, Feb. 20, hosted by Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce
Districts 10, 12, and 14 Legislative Coffee, Feb. 20, 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, hosted by Elevate Rapid City 
Districts 11, 15, and 25 Legislative Coffee, Feb. 27, hosted by Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

Fun Fact

Pierre is one of only four state capital cities not located on an Interstate highway. The others are Juneau, Alaska, Dover, Delaware, and Jefferson City, Missouri.