2018 session

The 93rd Legislature Approves Budget And Adjourns

Mar 9, 2018
Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB


The state legislature is adjusting the current fiscal year and setting next year’s budget.

It’s the final bill lawmakers pass before adjourning for the year.

Lawmakers are giving increases to education, state employees and community providers.

Lawmakers say extra money in consumer pockets because of recent federal tax cuts is what’s behind optimistic budget revisions for the rest of fiscal year 2018 and increases the following year.

Both the South Dakota House and Senate are agreeing on a bill that makes ballot access easier for third party candidates.

Earlier this year, District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol ruled the state’s ballot access provisions too stringent for those parties. He enjoined those laws on the state’s books, which adds urgency to the bill needing to pass.

State Senator Arthur Rusch says the new language should satisfy the judge’s ruling.

Budget Negotiations Over 'Big Three' Still Underway

Mar 8, 2018

Budget negotiations are ongoing with state lawmakers, who only have two days left of session.
The final budget is still a moving target, especially funding for state employees, education and Medicaid providers.
Lawmakers expect those three groups to see a slight increase in funding, but just how much remains is anyone’s guess.
Cover session and you’re bound to hear an anecdote about how lawmaking is like confecting a bratwurst. According to State Senator Deb Peters, the same can be said for drafting state budgets.

When state lawmakers first convened in January, State Senator Billie Sutton requested the legislative procedure committee take a closer look at code of conduct.

The request came after several reported stories of sexual assault and harassment in Pierre during session. Republican leadership says the code of conduct and reporting process are sufficient.

However, the rules committee agreed to appoint a subcommittee to take a closer look at rules on sexual harassment and reporting, but the subcommittee never met.

Change To Legislator Salary Comes Down To State Senate

Mar 5, 2018

The South Dakota House of Representatives is passing a Senate bill to increase legislator pay, initially, by tying their salaries to the median household income in South Dakota.
A State Senate panel also passed an identical bill on the same day.
That means the State Senate will determine whether lawmakers receive a bump up in pay.


State lawmakers are introducing legislation last minute to accommodate a primary ballot question to adjust Marsy’s Law.

The bill instructs constitutional officers to prepare for the earlier vote, and appropriates funds to make that happen.

Critics of the move say it circumvents the legislative process.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Republican leadership in the South Dakota House of Representatives say prompt attention was given to the concerns of Representative Lynne DiSanto following an incident that occurred last week.

Representative David Johnson approached DiSanto on the house floor last Wednesday after representatives adjourned. Witnesses say the situation escalated, and DiSanto says she feared for her safety.


South Dakota voters will get the chance to adjust a constitutional amendment they passed in 2016 – Marsy’s Law.

During debate Wednesday, Republican senators moved the vote to the primary election, as opposed to the general election.

Critics of the move say that will disenfranchise voters who aren’t registered as Republican.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The State Senate is passing a bill that critics say could dissuade people from circulating a petition.

House Bill 1196 requires more information for the affidavit petition circulators must sign before gathering signatures.

Rob Timm is president for the Chiesman Center for Democracy. He says it makes the process more onerous for petition circulators.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The South Dakota Senate is rejecting a proposal that ends collective bargaining for university faculty.

State Senator Arthur Rusch is from Vermillion, and represents the district with the University of South Dakota

He says the union sets up a grievance process where employees can get heard.

“We are a right-to-work state. And right-to-work is all about the fact that you don’t have to join a union,” Rusch says. “But I don’t think we ought to say you can’t join the union, which is what that was trying to do.”

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

A Senate panel is killing a proposal asking voters to tie legislator pay to one-fifth of the median household income in South Dakota.

The panel voted unanimously to table House Joint Resolution 1001. A bill with similar language is working through the legislature.

Republican State Senator Ryan Maher says the legislature needs to make the decision whether to increase their pay, not the voters. He says that should be an in-house decision.

A question that asks South Dakota voters to increase the threshold for a constitutional amendment to pass is one step away from the ballot.

Senate Joint Resolution One passes through the House State Affairs committee on a party line vote, with democrats opposing the measure.

The ballot question would ask voters whether to raise the bar for changing the state constitution to fifty five percent, plus one.


The South Dakota House Representatives are creating a committee to investigate an incident between two Rapid City representatives.

The committee on discipline and expulsion is investigating the actions of Representative David Johnson towards another, female, representative.

Representative Johnson says his emotions got the best of him. Before representatives voted on an investigative committee, Johnson issued an apology on the house floor...

Jenifer Jones / SDPB


The Senate wants more disclosures and a navigable website to monitor documents that recipients and sub-recipients have with grant money.

These requirements would target entities like Mid-Central Educational Co-op, which mishandled federal Gear-Up grant dollars.

However, there was some dispute over the length of time those documents should be retained.

State Senator Deb Peters is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 100. She’s also chair of the Government Operations and Audit Committee, that’s taking a close look at what’s known as the Gear Up scandal.

Senate Ed Committee Votes Down Free Speech Bill

Feb 22, 2018

The Senate Education committee narrowly voted down a proposal that protects free speech on public university campuses.

Senate Bill 198 is backed by a national organization for individual rights in education that wants those protections in state statute.

However, critics of the bill say those protections are in the state and federal constitution.

Joseph Cohn is with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE.

A Senate committee is voting down a proposal that ends the refugee resettlement program in South Dakota from countries that appear on the federal travel ban list.
However, if passed, officials with the governor’s office say Senate Bill 200 would get overridden by federal law.
Currently, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota assists with refugee resettlement in the state. According to its website, in 2017, LSS helped 316 refugees settled into South Dakota.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB


A South Dakota House panel is defeating two proposals dealing with constitutional amendment.

One would ask voters to let the legislature have final say over these amendments. The other would outright remove the ability of citizens to amend the state’s constitution.

Ultimately, if passed by both chambers, the concepts behind House Joint Resolutions 1007 and 1008 would have been subject to the vote of the public.


South Dakota lawmakers are rejecting the governor’s bill to allow a temporary license for practicing professionals who move from another state.

House Bill 1319 would establish compacts with several western states to grant licensed professionals a temporary license to work while they work toward accreditation in the member state they just moved to.

But the bill dies in the house.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The legislative committee tasked with crafting the South Dakota state budget has adopted their projections.

Those include a revision to the current fiscal year, as well as an 18 month projection to the end of next fiscal year.

So far, the projection numbers are good news for officials.

For fiscal year 2018, the Joint Appropriations Committee decided on a revised budget number of $1,586,137,345.

Marsy's Law Compromise Passes Out Of House Committee

Feb 14, 2018

A South Dakota House panel is passing legislation that asks voters to mend Marsy’s Law, and put some of those constitutional guarantees into law.

House Joint Resolution 1004 asks South Dakota voters to change the current statute by having victims request to prevent disclosure of public information.

Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo says the change works better for his office. He says Marsy’s Law is stretching his office’s budget.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The South Dakota House of Representatives is passing a bill that removes collective bargaining for the state’s public university faculty.

House Bill 1199 passed thirty seven to twenty eight.

Of the roughly 3,500 union-eligible professors under the Board of Regents, around 120 pay dues.

Republican State Representative Mark Mickelson is the prime sponsor of the bill. He says that low membership number is reason enough to remove the ability to collective bargain.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

The South Dakota Senate is denying to take up a bill that opens all non-meandered lakes to recreational use.

Senate Bill 199 opens any non-meandered lakes over private property. Recreationists could use those lakes without permission from the landowner.

Recreationists and supporters of the bill are calling for a due process to open public waters over private land.

It’s the opposite of what’s been called the “Open Waters Compromise” that lawmakers passed last summer.

SD Lawmakers Kill Bill To Reduce Sales Tax On Food

Feb 12, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB


State lawmakers are rejecting a proposal to reduce sales tax collections on food.

The proposed reduction in food tax would be tied to online sales tax collections.

Removing or reducing the sales tax on food is a bill that’s been brought for the last several years, but gone no where.

December Revenues Higher Than Current Projections

Feb 9, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

Earlier this week, state officials released tax receipts for collections made at the end of January.

Those collections reflect the month of December, a high shopping season.

Revenues are over $18 million than currently projected.

Governor Dennis Daugaard says he’s cautiously optimistic about the numbers.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

A House committee is passing a measure that caps out-of-state money to ballot measure question committees.

The bill places that cap at $100,000 per entity, until it’s been recognized in the state for at least four years.

State Representative Spencer Gosch sponsors House Bill 1216

Gosch says the bill aims to keep special interest money out of the state.

A South Dakota House committee is passing on legislation that removes collective bargaining for the state’s public universities.

Proponents say the bill will give universities more flexibility

Critics say the bill makes South Dakota’s conservative labor structure even more anti-union.

Currently, five other states don’t allow collective bargaining at their state universities. During public testimony of House Bill 1199, of the 3,500 eligible employees who are union eligible, only 122 are due paying members.

Committee Rejects Pipeline Moratorium

Feb 5, 2018

South Dakota lawmakers are rejecting a proposal to place a moratorium on new crude oil pipeline construction.

Democratic State Representative Shaun Bordeaux represents portions of the Rosebud Reservation.

He says the bill comes in the wake of looming Keystone XL pipeline construction.

“We have people who, for countless eons, have been in these lands here. To just dig up for a pipeline and expect that its good for commerce and that’s the end of the story, we really need to have a discussion about the land and the health of the land.”

Bill Amends Abortion Counseling Bill Held Up In Court

Feb 2, 2018


A Senate committee is passing along a bill that amends provisions to the state’s mandatory third-party pre-abortion counseling.

Senate Bill 110 permits those counselors to provide additional information for those seeking an abortion.

However, the law that bill is amending is currently on hold in the courts.

Last Day For Bill Introductions In Undefinable Session

Feb 1, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

February 1 is the last day for lawmakers to introduce individual bills and joint resolutions.

The 93rd legislative session is already known for the number of bills brought forth. The number of bills and joint resolutions for consideration already surpassed last year, and are still trickling in.

If you tuned into last week’s end of the week press conferences with legislative leadership from both chambers, republicans and democrats, as well as the governor -- one key theme emerged.



The Senate Judiciary committee is passing an almost identical bill from last year that allows permit-less carry of a concealed pistol.