Week four of the legislative session brought the final filing deadline for bills to be introduced. There are currently 293 House bills and 186 Senate bills that have been introduced. This is a slight increase from last year’s bill total of 272 house bills and 187 senate bills.
A few bills of interest from week 4:
• On Wednesday we heard HB 1084, a bill to increase the maximum allowable height of certain vehicles carrying baled feed and to declare an emergency. This issue was brought to our attention by several people in the commercial hay hauling business. Rep. Finck and I met with representatives from the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation, and the Governors office to try to find a solution. This bill will change the current allowable maximum height of a load of baled feed from 14 feet, 3 inches to 15 feet. This is a common-sense change that will bring the height requirements in line with current agricultural practices. HB 1084 passed the House and will head to the Senate.
• On Thursday morning in Ag Committee, we heard HB 1008, which authorizes the growth, production, and transportation of industrial hemp in South Dakota. The governor’s office laid out four guardrails to decriminalizing industrial hemp: reliable enforcement, responsible regulation, safe transportation, and adequate funding. We had a very good discussion in committee, and much of our questioning came down to the funding of the potential program.
I believe this discussion should be separated into two distinct discussions. Number one, if we pass HB 1008 and establish a program to grow, manufacture and transport industrial hemp, there will be costs associated with that. If the Legislature authorizes this new program, we need to be able to come up with the money to put it in place. The second discussion has to do with the fact that industrial hemp is legal at the federal level, and legal in 47 other states. Because of that fact, we cannot restrict the flow of commerce on our interstates and highways. There are certain costs associated with the enforcement of this program, whether HB 1008 passes or not. I was concerned that all of the costs are being allocated to the passage of the bill, and not to the fact that if the bill doesn’t pass, South Dakota still needs to figure out how to enforce it, and how to pay for that enforcement.
HB 1008 passed Ag committee and will be heard on the House floor this week.
• Wednesday evening, I had the opportunity to visit with a few local school administrators who were in town. We had a great discussion on the issues they are facing at the local level and discussed legislation that has been introduced.
• On Friday, we said goodbye to our second round of legislative pages, including Hadley Stievfater from Salem. We appreciate all of the work they do to help the legislative process.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at any time. The best way to reach me is through my email at Kent.Peterson@sdlegislature.gov, or by phone at 605-530-6245. I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.