Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The legislative committee tasked with crafting the South Dakota state budget has adopted their projections.

Those include a revision to the current fiscal year, as well as an 18 month projection to the end of next fiscal year.

So far, the projection numbers are good news for officials.

For fiscal year 2018, the Joint Appropriations Committee decided on a revised budget number of $1,586,137,345.

Marsy's Law Compromise Passes Out Of House Committee

Feb 14, 2018

A South Dakota House panel is passing legislation that asks voters to mend Marsy’s Law, and put some of those constitutional guarantees into law.

House Joint Resolution 1004 asks South Dakota voters to change the current statute by having victims request to prevent disclosure of public information.

Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo says the change works better for his office. He says Marsy’s Law is stretching his office’s budget.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The South Dakota House of Representatives is passing a bill that removes collective bargaining for the state’s public university faculty.

House Bill 1199 passed thirty seven to twenty eight.

Of the roughly 3,500 union-eligible professors under the Board of Regents, around 120 pay dues.

Republican State Representative Mark Mickelson is the prime sponsor of the bill. He says that low membership number is reason enough to remove the ability to collective bargain.


The State Senate is passing a bill that allows interested organizations like the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau to have an ongoing ballot question committee.

Senate Bill 128 allows those perpetual committees to donate to several other ballot question committees for and against an issue.

Critics say the bill reduces transparency.

With previous lengthy ballots during elections, and another anticipated one on the horizon… sometimes groups that focus on policy in South Dakota may have an interest in several questions up for vote.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

The South Dakota Senate is denying to take up a bill that opens all non-meandered lakes to recreational use.

Senate Bill 199 opens any non-meandered lakes over private property. Recreationists could use those lakes without permission from the landowner.

Recreationists and supporters of the bill are calling for a due process to open public waters over private land.

It’s the opposite of what’s been called the “Open Waters Compromise” that lawmakers passed last summer.

SD Lawmakers Kill Bill To Reduce Sales Tax On Food

Feb 12, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB


State lawmakers are rejecting a proposal to reduce sales tax collections on food.

The proposed reduction in food tax would be tied to online sales tax collections.

Removing or reducing the sales tax on food is a bill that’s been brought for the last several years, but gone no where.

December Revenues Higher Than Current Projections

Feb 9, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

Earlier this week, state officials released tax receipts for collections made at the end of January.

Those collections reflect the month of December, a high shopping season.

Revenues are over $18 million than currently projected.

Governor Dennis Daugaard says he’s cautiously optimistic about the numbers.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

A House committee is passing a measure that caps out-of-state money to ballot measure question committees.

The bill places that cap at $100,000 per entity, until it’s been recognized in the state for at least four years.

State Representative Spencer Gosch sponsors House Bill 1216

Gosch says the bill aims to keep special interest money out of the state.

A South Dakota House committee is passing on legislation that removes collective bargaining for the state’s public universities.

Proponents say the bill will give universities more flexibility

Critics say the bill makes South Dakota’s conservative labor structure even more anti-union.

Currently, five other states don’t allow collective bargaining at their state universities. During public testimony of House Bill 1199, of the 3,500 eligible employees who are union eligible, only 122 are due paying members.

Committee Rejects Pipeline Moratorium

Feb 5, 2018

South Dakota lawmakers are rejecting a proposal to place a moratorium on new crude oil pipeline construction.

Democratic State Representative Shaun Bordeaux represents portions of the Rosebud Reservation.

He says the bill comes in the wake of looming Keystone XL pipeline construction.

“We have people who, for countless eons, have been in these lands here. To just dig up for a pipeline and expect that its good for commerce and that’s the end of the story, we really need to have a discussion about the land and the health of the land.”

Bill Amends Abortion Counseling Bill Held Up In Court

Feb 2, 2018


A Senate committee is passing along a bill that amends provisions to the state’s mandatory third-party pre-abortion counseling.

Senate Bill 110 permits those counselors to provide additional information for those seeking an abortion.

However, the law that bill is amending is currently on hold in the courts.

Yankton Area Progressive Growth

Several South Dakota lawmakers want voters to decide on a Deadwood-style casino in the city limits of Yankton.

The Port Yankton proposal is a part of an economic development project for the city.

However, several tribes and the City of Deadwood oppose the idea.

Supporters are calling for a proposed casino and entertainment complex in Yankton. If approved by South Dakota lawmakers, a constitutional amendment to allow the casino will make the November ballot.

Katie Hunhoff - South Dakota Magazine

The South Dakota House of Representatives is passing legislation to increase penalties for those who pay money for sex.

HB 1110 adds that a person convicted of one or more violations within a decade is a Class 6 felony.

The first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, a lesser offense.

Representative Thomas Holmes is sponsoring the bill. He says increasing the penalty for a second offense is the best chance for convicting those who pay money for sex.

Last Day For Bill Introductions In Undefinable Session

Feb 1, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

February 1 is the last day for lawmakers to introduce individual bills and joint resolutions.

The 93rd legislative session is already known for the number of bills brought forth. The number of bills and joint resolutions for consideration already surpassed last year, and are still trickling in.

If you tuned into last week’s end of the week press conferences with legislative leadership from both chambers, republicans and democrats, as well as the governor -- one key theme emerged.

HB1104 Revises provisions regarding the arrest of victims of domestic abuse.

Lawmakers debate requiring paid sick days each year. Measure fails.

Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is moving a bill forward that changes an eligibility requirement to serve on the Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

House Judiciary committee is passing legislation to increase penalties for those who pay money for sex. HB1110 adds that a person convicted of one or more violations within a decade is a Class 6 felony.


The South Dakota House of Representatives passed HB1008 that allows officials to adjust speed limits due to weather conditions and road work.

The House Education Committee is considering a bill that requires open-enrolled students to alert their resident school district if they plan on returning for the next school year.

South Dakota lawmakers must regularly update controlled substance statutes in order to follow federal regulations. SB32 contains several updates.

HJR1001 passes House and removes authority for lawmakers to set their own pay.



The Senate Judiciary committee is passing an almost identical bill from last year that allows permit-less carry of a concealed pistol.

National Park Service

South Dakota harbors around $243 billion dollars. Those assets are kept in any one of the 94 trust companies or state chartered banks. All that’s needed is a physical office location within the state’s borders.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB


The South Dakota Speaker of the House wants voters to decide whether legislators should get a pay increase.

He wants to tie legislator pay to the median household income in the state, rather than have lawmakers set their own pay. One critic of the measure says legislators should decide what would inevitably be a pay increase, not voters.

The Senate State Affairs Committee advances bills around voter registration; resolving language of voter approved initiated measures or constitutional amendments;  and reinforcing campaign funding limits.

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture says he's paying attention to the budget and the ag economy. A new study reveals the economy remains slow in rural parts of the state. 

SDSU President plans to move forward with a precision agriculture facility. The governor says the budget is tight to make that happen.

Voter May Decide On Constitutional Amendment Change

Jan 22, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

A Senate committee is advancing a bill that increases the percentage vote needed to change the state’s constitution.

Critics say the increase makes it harder for South Dakotans to change their constitution.

Proponents say it protects the constitution from out of state interests.

If passed through the house and senate and signed by the governor, Senate Joint Resolution will ask voters to increase the required voting threshold for a constitutional change to 55 percent.

The resolution came out of a summer study committee that met over the summer.

Tourism Up Slightly From Last Year

Jan 18, 2018
Courtesy National Park Service

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is celebrating eight straight years of growth in visits to the state and dollars spent.

The department says spending increased by one percent, while visitation increased from the previous year by a tenth of a percent.

The department of tourism says the industry contributed $2.6 billion  in Gross Domestic Product to South Dakota’s economy. It’s the second largest industry in the state behind agriculture.

Secretary of Tourism, Jim Hagen, says the future of South Dakota tourism lies in some very niche markets.

Non-Meandered Waters Resurface In South Dakota Capitol

Jan 18, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

On Thursday, a Senate legislative committee passed an extension of what some call “the open waters compromise.”

Lawmakers met last summer to implement rules for public access to those waters.

For landowners it’s about property rights. For recreationists, it’s about water rights.

The decades long debate is far from over.

The issue of non-meandered waters in South Dakota has garnered two state supreme court decisions, called for several summer study sessions and gathered lawmakers last summer for a special session vote.

A national group that advocates for state legislatures provided training centered on ethics, code of conduct and sexual harassment.

The House Judiciary Committee approves a bill adding several violent crimes to a list for parole calculation.

House Health and Human Services Committee is advancing a measure that allows counselors and therapists who hold licenses from other states to get a South Dakota license.

U.S. Education SEcretary Betsy DeVos approves South Dakota's plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.


Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The House Judiciary committee is passing along what supporters call clean-up language in state statute as it relates to trust companies in South Dakota.

House Bills 1028 and 1072 came from the annual Governor’s Task Force on Trust Administration Review and Reform. That task force first formed under the second Janklow administration.

Bret Afdahl is the director of the South Dakota Division of Banking. He says one of the bills fixes an oversight that requires certain trust companies have sufficient protection to back up their assets.

House Passes Bill To Extend LRC Comment Period

Jan 16, 2018
Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The South Dakota House of Representatives is passing a bill that gives the Legislative Research Council more time to draft and provide written comments for ballot measure petitions.

The idea for the bill came out of a legislative summer study committee that looked at the initiative and referendum process.

Critics worry the bill impedes the public’s ability to pass its own legislation.

The Legislative Research Council provides analysis of state statutes, fiscal impacts and further research for the legislature, but also helps with drafting petitions for circulation.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB


The House State Affairs committee is passing a bill that seeks to clear up any confusion surrounding ballot measure questions.

One critic of the bill says the change creates a system where a yes vote means no -- and vice versa -- for one particular ballot question.

Referred laws can be confusing.

In essence, the constitutional provision allows the citizens of South Dakota to put a recently passed state law on pause, and overturn the legislature and governor’s vote.

Officials Expect A Lot Of Bills This Session

Jan 11, 2018
Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

Officials expect a busy 2018 legislative session.

The Legislative Research Council is seeing a significant increase in requests for measures this year.

As lawmakers and committees are getting settled in during the first week of session, their bill requests themselves flood in as well.

Legislative Research Council Director Jason Hancock says his office is working through a tremendous number of bill draft requests.

South Dakota’s State Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson is pointing to the success of drug courts in reducing recidivism.

During his annual State of the Judiciary speech, Gilbertson called for similar courts for veterans and mental health.

Some legislators agree, but worry about funding issues…

It was Gilbertson’s 17th annual State of the Judiciary.

Republicans in the South Dakota Legislature will consider several issues as part of their 2018 agenda. They hold a super majority in both the State House and Senate. House Majority Leader Lee Qualm of Platte says balancing the budget is at the top of the list. State Democrats want to advance legislation on campaign finance reform and economic development on Native American reservations in this year's session.