Legislative Recap with Tony Lyren

Jan 29, 2021

The South Dakota State Legislature started off in earnest last week with various policy committees discussing proposed legislation and the appropriations committee hearing from many state funded departments and organizations.  There were not any particularly hot button issues discussed in South Dakota agriculture, but even the seemingly mundane things need to be evaluated and discussed. 
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee received an update from interim secretary of the newly form Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Hunter Roberts and Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden.  Lt. Governor Rhoden had previously been acting as the interim secretary of the Department of Ag, which he explained was not intended to be an example of an overreaching executive branch, but rather a way to facilitate strong communication between the regulatory agency and the Governor’s office.  He stressed that the governor’s administration intends to keep regulations minimal and will not be trying to expand the regulatory control of the DANR.  Following Lt. Governor Rhoden, Secretary Roberts and several other employees of the DANR gave updates on various programs handled by the department.  The main topic of discussion, though, was the proposed $19 million beef complex at the State Fairgrounds in Huron.  Many of the legislators were concerned about the sheer size and scope of this proposal which would replace the previous facility that burned down in October.  The department and governor’s office hope that the new 200,000 square foot, 7,000 seat complex will draw in rodeos, livestock shows, and other events that would increase tourism in the state.  Despite the discussion, the debate on the actual funding will likely take place in Appropriations Committee later.
House Ag also had a few bill hearings last week.  HB 1035 would remove the locking seal requirement for the transport of harvested big game.  The Game, Fish, and Parks introduced this to begin the movement toward “e-tags” in the next several years which would eliminate the need for resources spent on mailing out tags.  According to the GFP, other states have adopted the e-tag system with success.  Some of the committee had concerns that this system would not work well in areas with limited cellular service, while others worried that poachers could take advantage of the system.  Ultimately the bill passed 9-4 and will go to the House floor.
The Senate Ag and Natural Resources committee had a similar briefing from the DANR and several bill hearings.  SB 52 would revise the wastewater permit duration required for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  Currently CAFOs must reapply for a permit every five years, SB 52 would extend the length of a permit to 10 years.  According to the DANR, there are 449 CAFOs in the state and are spaced out for renewals somewhat evenly.  The renewal process is somewhat arduous and is putting a strain on the amount of staff the department has devoted to it.  Increasing the term to 10 years would allow for more efficient department handling as the applications could be spread out even more.  Several organizations supported the measure including the Association of Conservation Districts, Farm Bureau, and Cattlemen’s Association.  Opponents of the bills pointed out that there would be less opportunity for public comment during the application process.  Proponents were quick to point out that the rules of the permit have not changed and CAFOs are still subject to public complaints and inspections by the department.  The bill passed 5-2.  There were also several “clean up bills” which remove obsolete language or information from state law.  These bills are usually passed through committee quickly and placed on the consent calendar which waives debate of the measures on the floor of the House or Senate for faster passage. 
There’s a lot of moving parts in Pierre right now and my time is somewhat limited, but if there’s a bill you would like me to follow be sure to send me an email at lyrent@fullcircleag.com and I will do my best to check on it. 
You can access live and archived committee meetings, read bills, and find legislator contact information at https://sdlegislature.gov/

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