Committee Puts Native American Task Force Under Legislature

Mar 13, 2014

A group of lawmakers wants to better understand economic development in South Dakota’s Indian Country. House Bill 1213 establishes a task force under the supervision of the legislature’s executive board, but the Senate amended the bill on the floor to put the task force under the Governor’s Office, rather than the legislature.

Representative Don Haggar is a member of the conference committee and prime sponsor of the measure. He says it’s important to have tribal leaders and legislators working side by side to improve economic development on reservations.

“There are some very specific issues that are obstacles to economic development in Indian Country. They have to do with property rights, they have to do with settling disputes—you know which courts do you use tribal versus civil courts — they have to do with uniform commercial code issues. Because all of those obstacles, or issues are obstacles to lending, it’s important that we have the ability for individuals who want to start a business on a reservation—and starting a business equals more jobs—most businesses need to borrow some money to do that,” Haggar says.

One Senator voted against putting the task force under the legislature, and fears the move won’t be supported by the full Senate. Haggar says he’s optimistic Senators will see the benefits of legislative-tribal relations and vote in favor of the amendment.