State Prepares Statute To Handle Potential Actions Against KXL Pipeline
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.
The change allows the governor to declare a public safety zone. Within that zone, criminal trespass penalties increase. First time offenders receive a minimum ten day jail sentence. A second offense is a class 6 felony.
The governor can also prohibit groups larger than twenty from congregating upon any tract of public land near a disputed site, as well as increase penalties for obstructing roadways.
Daugaard says the bill is in response to potential protests, like the one against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“President Trump’s order which encourages the renewed interest of the Trans-Canada Keystone XL pipeline made me realize that if this construction began in South Dakota this could very well occur right here," Daugaard says. "Then, the association of counties raised concern because they heard from North Dakota about the problems that county law enforcement were faced with there.”
Democrats on the Senate State Affairs committee say they were surprised by the bill. Senator Billie Sutton says he’s concerned about the legislation.
“Right now it doesn’t seem like a very good piece of legislation and we got to dig a little bit into it more, but, I would question the constitutionality of it as we move forward," Sutton says. "Because a lot of these people who are protesting are non-violent protestors and that is protected by the first amendment.”
The bill is scheduled for another hearing on Wednesday.
Republican leadership say they’d like to add a sunset clause to the bill or require the legislation to get reauthorized annually.