Lee Strubinger / SDPB

State lawmakers say they need a week to pore over proposed legislation that declares non-meandered bodies of water open to the public, even over flooded private property.
Officials say the legislation could lead to a special session in June, even though there’s no consensus on the bill.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

One state lawmaker says he hopes a special session is called very soon to determine what beneficial use of non-meandered water is for the public.
During day two of public hearings on the issue in Aberdeen, State Senator Brock Greenfield says he hopes a special legislative session is called soon to consider any legislation.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

The first of two legislative hearings on non-meandered waters is being held in Aberdeen. Many testifiers focused on the economic benefit fishing has in Northeastern South Dakota.

Some sportsmen say they want a solution that also makes landowners happy.

Water has flooded private property in Day County for decades, and hunters, fishermen and women, and outdoors-people have constitutional access to that water. This has created a rift between landowners and recreationist.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

An issue that infiltrated the 1990's is catching the eye of South Dakotans who fish.

The South Dakota Supreme Court will rule on the second of two lawsuits pertaining to public access to bodies of water for recreation. It’s an issue that took center stage in Day County where several bodies of water formed more than two decades ago following heavy snow and spring rains.

Since then sportsmen have wanted access to the water that pools on private property, but landowners want their privacy. State law holds water in trust for “beneficial use” for the public.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

High-profile political speakers grabbed headlines this weekend, and politicos followed potential drama at two competing events.

A Bernie Sanders-style Democrat, Keith Ellison, talked to Democrats. Right-wing author David Horowitz offered the keynote to Republicans.

The Best Western Ramkota Hotel complex in Sioux Falls hosted the annual McGovern Day fundraiser for Democrats and the GOP's Freedom Rally. Both events signal a shift in state politics.

Audit of Mid Central Expected Mid-May

Apr 25, 2017
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The South Dakota Auditor General says he expects to release the final audit of the Gear Up program next month. Marty Guindon says the audit examines the financial dealings between federally-funded Gear Up and Mid-Central Education Cooperative.

Anti-Corruption Group Holds Forums Across The State

Apr 23, 2017
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The group promoting a constitutional amendment in the spirit of Initiated Measure 22 held a forum in Rapid City to discuss the new Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment.

The stop in Rapid City is one of many the group is holding across the state in the next couple weeks

Around seven people showed up for the Represent South Dakota forum at the Rapid City public library.

It’s one of nine stops the group is making to organize and place another ballot question similar to Initiated Measure 22 on the ballot.

City of Sioux Falls

Every ten years state lawmakers must draft new boundaries for state legislative districts. Observers say as population grows in more urban areas, Sioux Falls may receive another legislative district in 2021, following the census.

State Senator Jim Bolin loves to talk demographic and population shifts in South Dakota.

“I’ve crunched some numbers on this," Bolin says. "It’s kind of my hobby…”

The head of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks says it will block off access to water situated over private land.
The move is a result of a state Supreme Court decision saying landowners have property rights under non-meandering water.
Last week Game Fish and Parks officials announced they were closing Department-managed boat launches and halting fish stockings on non-meandered bodies of water over private land.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

The State of South Dakota is pausing efforts to facilitate the Little Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake land transfer with the federal government.

Katie Cerrol is with the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks department. She says the consulting firm Peaks to Plains will finish up an inventory analysis of the proposed areas…

“Then we’re going to close out their contracts," Cerrol says. "So, in other words, there won’t be any formal meetings taking place in May, they’re postponed. And really that allows us to pause. So we’re pausing those planning efforts.”

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota’s governor says federal health care reform can benefit the state’s working poor. The United States Congress failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. South Dakota’s top official says a different federal change can save tens of millions of dollars.

To understand health care in South Dakota’s future, start in the past. The Affordable Care Act offers subsidies for people with low incomes down to the poverty line. Below that the law needed states to expand Medicaid to cover the working poor.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Lawmakers in Pierre changed their own rules Monday to introduce a new bill on veto day. The final day of the session is reserved for reconsidering bills the governor vetoes. Not this year.

Senate Bill 179 extends probationary time for juveniles.

Lawmakers in the South Dakota State Legislature introduced it, approved it, and delivered it to the governor all in one day.

House Lawmakers Fail To Override Gun Bill Vetos

Mar 27, 2017

Two vetoes by Governor Dennis Daugaard aimed at bills that relax state gun laws… stand.
The South Dakota House of Representatives failed to reach a two thirds majority to override the governor’s veto on allowing concealed pistols in the capitol building, as well as stripping the permit process for concealed carry elsewhere.
House lawmakers came up eleven votes shy of allowing gun owners what’s often called “Constitutional Carry” – the assumption that a citizen has a right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Victoria Wicks

Pending approval, the Keystone XL pipeline will pass across the state of South Dakota, through Buffalo, Murdo and Winner. The pipeline also crosses the river near the Cheyenne River Reservation.

A protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline near Standing Rock in North Dakota went on for months.
That’s prompted the state to prepare for potential demonstrations. It starts with one piece of legislation.

Governor Vetos Gun Bills And Three Others

Mar 17, 2017

Governor Dennis Daugaard is vetoing five bills that reached his desk. Two of those bills would have expanded gun laws in the state.
Two gun bills Governor Daugaard vetoed allow persons with an enhanced concealed carry permit to carry in the capitol, and another repealed concealed carry permit requirements altogether.
Daugaard says security at the capitol is ample. Since the sheriffs and police chiefs association oppose getting rid of concealed carry without a permit, he opposed that bill as well.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

South Dakota lawmakers may no longer use political money for personal use. That’s one of the many caveats of Senate Bill 54 that’s up for consideration by Governor Dennis Daugaard.
The legislation started as clean up language in state statute regarding campaign finance laws. The bill was amended several times as it worked through the legislature.

Protest Bill Heads To Governor With Emergency Clause

Mar 11, 2017

A bill that expands the governor’s ability to respond to potential protests has passed through the legislature with an emergency clause.

That’s what kept the bill from reaching the governor’s desk, until now.

Senate bill 176 allows the governor to prohibit no more than 20 people on school and public land, allow outside council for criminal defense and stiffens penalties to prevent protestors from blocking highways and occupying highway right of ways.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed a bill that allows faith-based adoption agencies to use their discretion when placing children…

Daugaard says the bill is legislation that’s been distributed to multiple states. He points to language in the bill about tax credits…

Protesters in South Dakota face new penalties if lawmakers can agree on a final version of Senate Bill 176. The protest bill started out with specific safety zones and an emergency clause. Lawmakers amended the bill as it moved through the capitol.

South Dakota lawmakers want the governor to approve a bill that offers limited immunity to people in drug overdose emergencies.  House Bill 1082 protects a person from drug prosecution when they call authorities to help someone in serious danger of overdosing.

House Restores Pre-IM 22 Campaign Finance Limits

Mar 7, 2017
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

South Dakota lawmakers want limits on campaign donations… to stay at the level they were before Initiated Measure 22.

Voter-approved IM 22 reduced the amount of cash people can put into South Dakota elections. Earlier this session, lawmakers repealed it. Now the South Dakota House of Representatives has amended a bill to revert to the old campaign finance caps.

The South Dakota House approves a bill that reschedules and recognizes a marijuana derivative as medicine.
Senate Bill 95 makes cannabidiol, or CBD, a schedule four drug. It also removes the substance from the state definition of marijuana. CBD is commonly used to treat epilepsy in children.
State Representative Thomas Holmes voted in favor of the bill.

Charles Michael Ray

A bill that establishes constitutional carry in South Dakota now heads to the governor’s desk.
State Senator Brock Greenfield brought House Bill 10-72 to the full chamber. He says current concealed carry laws create a barrier for law abiding citizens.
““It streamlines the situation. It doesn’t require somebody to lease back their guaranteed second amendment right, so long as they’re not subject to any disqualifiers.”

Jenifer Jones

A house committee has minimized the role of a proposed government accountability task force. Senate Bill 171 now establishes a panel to focus solely on campaign finance limits.
During the same meeting, legislators are also reverting a heavily amended campaign finance law back to its original language.

The original Government Accountability Task Force had three main objectives: review lobbyist restrictions, consider ethics reform, and evaluate campaign finance.

A bill that allows faith-based adoption and foster placement agencies to refuse service based on religious beliefs is one vote away from the governor’s desk.
An amendment added on the House floor requires any agency that denies child-placement to provide prospective parents a list of other adoption agencies in the state.
Critics say Senate Bill 149 allows faith-based organizations to use a religious litmus test on otherwise qualified families who hope to adopt or foster children.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

With a week left in the legislative session, lawmakers are close to piecing together the state budget puzzle.

A Closer Look At SB 54 And Campaign Finance Reform

Mar 1, 2017
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

Senate Bill 54 is a measure that’s meant to rework the state’s campaign finance requirements. The bill narrowly passed through committee and was also a close vote in the senate.

The bill now moves to the house where many are saying it’s liable to further be amended.

Lawmakers have two weeks left to craft a budget. Several of the governor’s one time expenditures are on the chopping block, unless officials can find money elsewhere.

Legislators have to plug up around $54 million dollar in revenue shortfall for the remainder of this and next fiscal year.

Lawmakers are looking for alternative ways to fund the Animals Disease Research and Diagnostics Laboratory and projects like the Spearfish Canyon land transfer will have to wait… at least until sales tax revenues pick up.


A measure that allows gun owners to carry a concealed pistols without permits is moving through the statehouse...even after one version of it died.
The legislation just passed the state House of Representatives. It now moves to the State Senate where lawmakers tabled a similar measure.


The South Dakota Senate has passed a bill that allows faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to refuse service based on religious beliefs.
Critics say that opens the door for discrimination against same-sex couples.
Senate Bill 149 protects faith-based adoption and foster service from losing state funds if they decide to turn away couples who don’t meet their requirements.
State Senator Alan Solano sponsors the bill. He says the measure allows religious groups to match children and parents based on their sincerely-held beliefs.

The House Transportation Committee has approved two bills to allow new Native American design options on license plates. Senate Bill 73 provides a special plate for Native American veterans. Supporters say this allows Native Americans to denote their tribe and their military service. Senate Bill 118 allows for special plates to have the depiction of the new Dignity statue.The House Transportation Committee also passed a motorcycle license plate policy revision. The bill offers motorcyclists a choice of how they display their license plates.