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Governor Daugaard vetoed allow persons with an enhanced concealed carry permit to carry in the capitol, and another repealed concealed carry permit requirements altogether.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.

A bill that increases the governor’s scope to react to a large scale protest now heads to the Senate Floor.
The governor’s office says Senate Bill 176 is legislation that aims to keep protests peaceful when the Keystone XL pipeline gets built. Opponents say it’s a restriction on free speech.

Senate Bill 176 lets the governor declare a public safety zone, establishes the crime of criminal trespassing, limits the number of people on public and school lands, as well as allows out of state lawyers to help with an increase in number of defendants.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

A bill that bans state employees from lobbying the legislature for three years has failed.
State Representative Steve Haugaard says state employees should not be allowed to leave government and go directly into lobbying.

Lawmakers Start Crafting Budget

Feb 20, 2017

Lawmakers will start crafting the state budget this week.
Due to a lagging farm economy and a decrease in projected sales tax revenue, lawmakers have about $25 million dollars less to work with.
Last week lawmakers adopted February revenue projections, which put the budget at lower than projected.
Governor Dennis Daugaard says budget increases for state agencies are unlikely at this point. However, he says the state won’t have to make cuts like it did when he first took office…

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

Due to a budget shortfall, the proposed Spearfish Canyon land transfer is on hold.

The legislature adopted revenues that were $25 million shorter than previously projected.

That’s mostly due to lagging state sales tax revenue.

Governor Dennis Daugaard says the public input sessions will continue. He says even if they’re only about land the state already owns.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

Governor Dennis Daugaard’s office is expanding state statute to handle any potential pipeline demonstrations in the future.
The bill comes a few weeks after President Donald Trump greenlighted the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
There’s concern over methods the governor’s office took to change state law.
Governor Daugaard’s office took a relatively empty bill called a shell bill, and stuffed it full of ten changes and additions to state statue.
The method is called a hog house amendment.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says he’s undecided on a bill that expands protections for faith based child placement agencies.
Proponents say the bill protects the adoption and foster parent agencies’ religious freedoms.
Critics say the measure allows discrimination against same-sex couples who want to become foster parents or adopt.
Daugaard says many faith-based agencies accept federal money, which bars them from discrimination based on race and sexuality…

The Senate Taxation Committee has deferred a pay raise bill. The measure increases pay to certain care providers. Senate Bill 169 puts an extra $15 property tax per $100,000 home value. The revenue contributes to raising community care providers wage from under $11 to over $16 an hour. Community care providers aid individuals with various mental and physical disabilities with everyday tasks and treatment.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

Lawmakers hope to establish a task force to evaluate the state’s voter initiative and referendum process.
A bill to form a study session passed the House State Affairs committee.
Several bills that relate to the ballot measure process are working through the legislature. Those include changing procedures for filing, certifying and challenging petitions, public comment periods, fiscal impact statements and delaying implementation of ballot measures.

Bill To Limit Out Of State Money Heads To House Floor

Feb 15, 2017
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A house committee is proposing a $100,000 cap on contributions from out-of-state groups that give funds to state ballot questions.

The Senate Commerce and Energy Committee has deferred a maternity leave bill to the 41st day. Senate Bill 150 provides up to four weeks of paid maternity leave.  Mothers earn one week of paid leave for every year of full time work.

South Dakota’s House of Representatives supports a change in the state’s penalty for abortion. House Bill 1101 makes it a felony  to perform or attempt to perform an abortion when the fetus can feel pain. Right now that’s a misdemeanor. State law says a fetus feels pain at 20 weeks. The measure includes an exception for medical emergencies.