The 2021 session of the South Dakota Legislature finished up on March 11. A bill which I prepared and filed early in the 2021 session was SB112 which requires that the governor obtain the advice and consent of the Senate before appointing a replacement for any of the constitutional officers (the Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, State Auditor and Commissioner of School and Public Lands). Under the law now, the governor can fill those positions without anyone else’s approval. SB112 passed the Senate by a vote of 32-2 and the House by a vote of 54-14 and the governor signed it on March 25, the very last day. As a result of the new law, effective July 1, the governor can still fill vacancies in any of those offices but only with the “advice and consent” of the Senate.

The Legislature also had “veto day” on March 29. This is an opportunity for the Legislature to overturn any vetoes done by the governor but it requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature for a vetoed bill to become law. This year the only bill that the governor vetoed was HB1217. This was a bill dealing with transgender students. I voted against that bill because I felt that the South Dakota High School Activities Association is already handling that issue and there have been no problems in South Dakota. The governor’s veto was a “style and form” veto. This is unique to South Dakota. It still allows the vetoed bill to become law if the Legislature makes the changes that the governor wants.

Many of the proponents of HB1217 were unhappy about the governor’s changes but it looks like the governor tried to fix some parts of the bill. I know that USD was very concerned that part of HB1217 conflicted with NCAA rules which could have put the University in a bind as to whether to follow state law or NCAA regulations. Universities could face possible penalties from the NCAA if they do not follow their regulations. That could include banning South Dakota teams from national competition, a particular concern this spring when both USD and SDSU had teams competing at the national level.

Nothing actually happened to HB1217 on veto day. The house rejected the governor’s proposed changes and eventually, after a long day the House failed to override her veto. In the Senate, we did nothing all day as we could do nothing until the House acted since it was a bill that started in the House. The Senate gave the House several warnings that we were going to go home unless they took some action and finally we left late in the day. That would have been a problem if the House had overridden the governor’s veto but they failed to do that.

Since the end of the session, the governor has issued executive orders dealing with this topic but it remains to be seen what the effect of the executive orders are and there are significant concerns as to whether the governor has the legal authority to do that.

The Legislature had heard that the governor might ask lawmakers to deal with medical marijuana on veto day but that didn’t happen. HB1100 was originally introduced at the request of the governor to slow down and modify the effect of IM26, the medical marijuana initiated measure. During the session, the Senate made significant changes in the governor’s version of 1100. The Senate felt that we needed to show the voters that we had heard them and were trying to work toward medical marijuana. The amended version of HB1100 passed the Senate by a vote of 29-6 but the governor and the House were not willing to go along with the Senate’s proposed changes so 1100 was killed and IM26 should go into effect on July 1, 2021. We have heard that the governor is still considering calling a special session of the Legislature to revisit that topic sometime before July 1.

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