Legislature Expands Governor Power During Emergency, Exempts Guns & Ammo

Mar 31, 2020

Credit Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

South Dakota lawmakers are passing a bill that broadens the governor’s power in times of disaster or emergencies.

The bill is meant to define the governor’s role in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak. Lawmakers added an amendment that prohibits the government from closing gun stores and includes other gun rights related provisions.

As the number of COVID-19 cases reach 100, including one state lawmaker, legislators are passing a bill that eases licensing timelines for licensed professionals and suspend the letting process for state contracts.

However, she will not have the authority to limit the use, sale and transportation of firearms and ammo.

Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Brock Greenfield says the legislature is trying to be responsive in a time that’s chaotic.

“There are no boogeymen that were intended," Greenfield says. "We’re just trying to ensure that we’ve addressed a concern put forth by a number of people out there in the public.”

That public includes the National Rifle Association, which drafted the amendment house republicans approved.

Representative Spencer Gosch brought the amendment to the bill.

“This is language brought by the National Rifle Association. This is a concern that is happening in the state. This language was added," Gosch says. "It was vetted again by the governor’s office. They made some of their changes and that is the language that we have adopted here that you will see.”

State lawmakers met on Veto Day—a day reserved for considering gubernatorial vetoes—to pass several other bills aimed at the state’s ability to respond to the coronavirus.

Governor Kristi Noem says she does not plan on a statewide closure of business.