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Legislative Update


SD Representative Larry Rhoden (R-Dist.49) - February 27, 2018

PIERRE, SD - We now have two weeks of session left and things are extremely hectic at the Capitol. Some significant bills have been going through and working their way through the process. In all my years of chairing the State Affairs committee in the House and Senate I have never had near as many bills assigned to my committee as I’ve had this year.   I’ve had to schedule several ‘after session’ committee hearings in order to get through them all. The following is an update on some noteworthy bills.

Providing for the future of agriculture:

Both in committee and on the floor, I was a supporter of HB 1264. This bill authorizes the board of regents to build a precision agriculture classroom and laboratory building. This building will help teach a new generation of farmers how to maximize yields and minimize input costs by analyzing land at an acre by acre level. Agriculture is the largest industry by far in South Dakota, and all South Dakotans benefit from agriculture’s success in this state. An investment like this that keeps South Dakota at the forefront of the national ag industry is a highly profitable investment in South Dakota’s future economy. 

Protecting the Initiative measure process. 

There seems to be two concurrent threats to our Initiative measure process in South Dakota. One of these is the massive amounts of out-of-state money and influence that have manipulated and corrupted our process in an effort to achieve their agendas here in South Dakota. The other comes from those in Legislature would like to see the most important check on Government power eliminated from the South Dakota Constitution.  Many proposed solutions to these threats came through the State Affairs committee which I chair. Here’s how I voted. 

  • No on HB 1275: This bill changed the signature requirement for proposing Initiated measures, making it both unnecessarily confusing and unreasonably difficult. It also would have made the process exceedingly difficult for the Secretary of State to validate signatures. 
  • No on HJR 1007: This joint resolution sought to eliminate the people’s ability to propose amendments to our state constitution. It would have made it extremely difficult to amend the constitution. 
  • Yes on HJR 1008: This joint resolution sought to change our laws regarding constitutional amendments to more accurately reflect our founder's intentions by requiring constitutional measures proposed by initiated measure to be approved by the legislature (but not by two-thirds vote, which would otherwise be required). From 1889 until 1972, the state constitution could not be amended through the initiated measure process, and until 1989 the legislature had to review any proposed amendments. This resolution would have changed law back to the way it was in 1989. Initiated measures would still have unmitigated authority over statute, but this would have put in place some extra scrutiny over amending our Constitution, which is a more permanent change in the law. 
  • Yes on HJR 1006: This was a common sense reform to limit Initiated measures to one subject. This is the same rule that the Legislature must follow when proposing bills, by order of our state constitution. It is impossible for legislators to sufficiently understand long, multi-subject laws, and it is impossible to ensure that these laws accomplish their claimed purpose and do not have any loopholes or hidden clauses. It makes no sense to hold citizens, who have their own busy lives, to a higher standard than their elected representatives. 

Only HJR 1006 made it out of the State affairs committee, and it also passed on the floor. 

     As always, you may contact me by email at [email protected] You can also keep track of bills, look up legislators, times of committee hearings and full House & Senate floor debates and more at http://legis.state.sd.us/.  If you are a District 29 constituent and plan to come to Pierre in the next week or two, feel free to let me know you will be there.



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