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Senate kills Noem's foreign ag oversight panel

Senator Erin Tobin addresses the South Dakota Senate. To her right, a legislative intern and page listen. A lower-third graphic reads the title of Senate Bill 185.
Senator Erin Tobin addresses the South Dakota Senate in support of SB 185.

A supermajority of state Senators has rejected Gov. Kristi Noem’s proposed panel to oversee foreign purchases of agricultural land.

Senate Bill 185 would have established a five-person panel to vet any land purchases by a foreign person, entity or government. The governor would also have unilateral veto of any purchase reviewed by the panel.

The bill faced opposition from nearly every agriculture industry group in committee testimony. But the proposal’s supporters on the Senate floor said any flaws would be rectified before it becomes law.

“This bill isn’t perfect, but the idea is,” said Sen. John Wiik, R-Big Stone City. “This is a discussion worth continuing.”

That argument wasn’t enough to persuade the bill’s skeptics.

Sen. David Wheeler, R-Huron, said the proposal vests too much power in the executive branch.

“You can’t think of our current governor, as to what she might do with this power. You must think to the next governor, and the governor after that,” he said. "That's who we'll be giving this power to."

The bill failed 11-23, with one excused. Sen. Erin Tobin, R-Winner, wants the Senate to reconsider the vote by which Senate Bill 185 lost. The Senate must calendar the bill before it receives another vote.

Slater Dixon is a junior at Augustana University studying Government and Data Science. He was born in Sioux Falls and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.
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