Both Chambers Pass Noem's Pipeline Action Response Bills

Mar 7, 2019

Credit Jenifer Jones / SDPB


Both legislative chambers are passing Governor Kristi Noem’s pipeline action response funds in one day.

The bills were introduced on Monday. Supporters say swift action is about public safety. Critics point to a lack of transparency from the Noem Administration.

During the last full week of session, the Republican controlled statehouse has passed the governor’s legislation that helps the state and counties crack down on those who riot during pipeline construction.

One bill sets up a fund that helps the state and county recover costs incurred for responding to pipeline demonstrations. The other allows the state, county or third party, to target wealthy individuals who allegedly fund “riot boosting,” as well as subjects a defendant to three times the cost of damages they may cause.

Governor Noem says she’s had conversations with legislators throughout session about potential fallout from Keystone XL pipeline construction. Noem says her administration has crafted these two bills in the two month’s she’d been governor.

“What we wanted to make sure was that we brought legislation that was ready,” Noem says. “that was right. That did what we wanted it to do, that was well thought out and was responsible.”

Critics are concerned how quickly these bills moved through the legislative process.

Democratic State Senator Troy Heinert says there were zero discussions with tribes prior to these bills dropping.

“It’s just put in our laps, and it’s put in the laps of our tribal law enforcement officers, too,” Heinert says. “They don’t know what their role is in this. There could have been that convertation."

The ACLU of South Dakota says it’s “currently weighing all options to ensure the First Amendment rights of South Dakotans are upheld.”