Legislative roundup: Pipelines and punishment
The South Dakota Capitol building in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)
Aside from transgender health care, the big themes on the Searchlight radar this week were carbon pipelines and criminal justice.
At least one media outlet used the term “Pipeline Monday” to describe the first day of the week that marked the halfway point of the main run of the 2023 legislative session. Half a dozen bills tied to proposed carbon pipelines appeared in committee that morning.
The pipelines in question aim to capture carbon dioxide from Midwestern ethanol plants and pump it underground. They’d earn $85 per ton of sequestered carbon through federal tax credits – not chump change, considering the projects could capture about 15 million tons every year.
Josh Haiar listened Monday as lawmakers debated whether to adjust South Dakota law to scuttle the projects. Two of six proposals on offer that morning survived committee.
House Bill 1133 would disallow the use of eminent domain – when a company can force you to sell or allow access to your property for public interest endeavors – for carbon capture projects. HB 1230 would force companies to give their final and best offer to landowners early on in the process.
Both bills passed the House floor and move to a Senate committee.
On the criminal justice side, four bills to tighten penalties for the repeat offenders bedeviling public safety in South Dakota’s urban centers advanced.
Senate Bill 146 would abolish parole for 13 violent crimes and require defendants to serve 85% of their sentences for 10 others. It cleared the full Senate Wednesday.
Two others made it out of House committees and await House floor debate. HB 1170 would establish mandatory minimums for repeat DUI offenses. HB 1160 would restrict parole eligibility for those with four or more felonies, irrespective of the underlying crimes’ violent nature.
HB 1171 would require parole hearings for people with four or more felony convictions (currently inmates can earn early release without a hearing through good behavior and rehabilitation program completion). That one was tabled in committee on Wednesday.
Gov. Kristi Noem signed several bills into law this week, too. Here’s a list.
Here’s where we’re at with some of the other bills we’ve been following.
Free state IDs: The original bill that would have let low-income South Dakotans get free state identification cards, HB 1103, was killed in the House Transportation Committee last week. But the committee revived the idea this week, sponsoring it in the form of HB 1241. Next up: Joint Committee on Appropriations.
More legislative coverage
Opioid harm reduction: The bipartisan HB 1041 would legalize fentanyl test strips, which can detect the presence of the sometimes-deadly synthetic opioid in other drugs. The bill sailed through Senate Judiciary on a unanimous vote, and now heads to the Senate floor.
Relocating county seats: SB 56 would raise the number of registered voters in a county required to sign a petition to move a county seat to a different city. A new amendment would allow one year rather than 30 days for county offices to move. That passed the House Local Government and heads to the House floor.
Tax cuts: A bill that would lower the state food sales tax from 4.5 % to 3.5% (HB 1096) was tabled in committee. Another that would cut the state food sales tax to 2.5% (HB 1095), as well as a bill that would exempt feminine hygiene products from the state sales tax (HB 1159), will head to House Appropriations.
Pharmacy costs: A bill that would lower costs for pharmacies by providing more transparency in prescription drug pricing by pharmaceutical companies passed the House Commerce and Energy Committee. Next up for HB 1135: The House floor.
Marijuana: The House passed HB 1172, which would require people seeking a medical marijuana card to undergo a medical assessment in typical places where licensed health care providers operate, such as chiropractic offices, clinics, hospitals or other facilities. That’ll flip to the Senate now.
Abortion: At the request of the sponsor, the House Health and Human Services Committee tabled a bill that would have further defined when doctors can intervene in a pregnancy to save the life of a pregnant female. Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt, R-Sioux Falls, pledged to continue educating legislators and the general public, and she plans to bring the issue back to the House next year.
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