During the 2016 legislative session, Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, delivered the first State of the Tribes address. The address was delivered before a joint session of the South Dakota Legislature and provided a review of key issues impacting the nine tribal nations that share South Dakota’s geography.
In his address, Chairman Frazier spoke of many timely topics, including Medicaid expansion and infrastructure in Indian Country, including county roadways which weave through tribal lands. Frazier also spoke of the number of suicides on reservations in South Dakota, as well as efforts the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was taking to address the methamphetamine epidemic within its borders—namely banishing members who are convicted of dealing, making or trafficking the drug.
The State of the Tribes Address is a tradition that has continued throughout the remainder of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Administration. In 2017, Chairman Robert Flying Hawk, of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, delivered the address. Just last week, Chairman Boyd Gorneau of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe provided remarks before the South Dakota Legislature.
As the South Dakota Legislature begins the 2018 session, you can find the information you need to understand the legislative process on this page, including what laws are being proposed and how you can make sure your voice is heard.
The official website of the South Dakota Legislature. Find information on past legislative sessions, current legislators, and South Dakota laws, and read the bills being discussed.
Track upcoming hearings and votes on the Legislature's official calendar.
South Dakota Public Broadcasting provides coverage of floor sessions and committee meetings.
Want to contact your representative?You may also e-mail your legislator using the link in their provided profile or leave a phone message by calling either the House or Senate lobby:
Senate Lobby: 605-773-3821
House Lobby: 605-773-3851
Crackerbarrel Session Information Rapid City: January 27, February 10, February 24, and March 3
The January 27 and February 24 meetings are 9-11 AM at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology New Classroom Building.
The February 10 and March 3 meetings are 9-11 AM at the Western Dakota Tech Event Center.
Crackerbarrels are free and open to the public.
Elected Officials information from the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce
Pages related to legislation
Coming soon Rapid City Legislator Profiles (Senator is listed first for each district. Names link to their Legislative Research Council profile. Where available, the legislator's Rapid City Journal profile is linked as well)
Lobbying and Campaign Finance
The National Institute on Money in State Politics is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides access to state data on campaign finance.
South Dakota is facing a $33.7 million revenue shortfall in 2018, reports the Argus Leader. At his annual budget address, Governor Daugaard proposed cutting the budget by $16 million across several agencies as well as picking up an additional $7.2 million from the state’s budget reserve and another $10 million from other state funds in order to address the shortfall.
An unanticipated cost arrived through rising enrollments in K-12 schools across the state. An additional 1,500 students calls for $16.4 million to go toward education. The budget also provides over $10 million to support Medicaid providers in the state.
Lawmakers will begin to consider Governor Daugaard’s budget proposal on January 9.
View the full detail of the 2018 budget on the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management’s website.
On November 9, 1992, South Dakota officially dropped its monicker as “The Sunshine State” and became known as “The Mount Rushmore State.” As chronicled by the Black Hills Pioneer, then State Representative Chuck Mateer of Belle Fourche introduced legislation in January of 1992 to change the state’s nickname. Opponents of the legislation including then State Representative Mary Edelen of Vermillion argued that it would make non-residents believe South Dakota to be “frozen tundra.”
South Dakota had several nicknames prior to being dubbed both “The Sunshine State” and “The Mount Rushmore State.” Perhaps the state’s earliest nickname was the “Coyote State,” which is believed to have been inspired by a horse race rather than the wild animal. In 1863, a solider from the 6th Iowa Cavalry and another from Company A of the Dakota Cavalry raced horses at Fort Randall. The Iowa soldier’s horse lost by a long shot, which cause an onlooker to remark “that the Dakota horse ran like a coyote,” thus inspiring the state’s nickname.
About 30 years later, South Dakota acquired a new nickname during a drought. The state’s first governor, Arthur C. Mellette, had embarked on a trip to Chicago in search of aid for his state when he ran into a newspaperman and personal friend, Moses P. Handy. Handy asked the governor how his state was faring, to which Mellette replied “Oh, South Dakota is a swinged cat, better than she looks.” Accounts of the incident indicated that Mellette meant “singed” or “burnt” when he said “swinged.” Shortly thereafter, the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper published a story citing Mellette “governor of the swinged cat state.”
Additional historical nicknames assigned to South Dakota can be viewed on the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation’s website.
Members of the state Legislature's task force on initiatives and referendums has brought up the topic of again moving the deadline for filing voter-signed petitions that seek changes to South Dakota laws. According to the Rapid City Journal, the current debate is about giving voters more time to obtain the necessary signatures in order get the petitions to state offices in time to put the measures on the next ballot.
Currently, petitions must be submitted to the Secretary of State's office one year beffore the election in which they will appear on the ballot. A proposal by Ryan Nesiba would allow petitioners to gather signatures until June 30th of the election year. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs indicated that this may create problems, as ballots are required to be published by August 1st before the election. However, Secretary Krebs noted that the time could be added on from the beginning of the signature gathering period instead.
To read up on past news articles related to the state Legislature, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive link.
For more information on the Legislature itself, be sure to check out the branch's homepage.
On July 1, 2017, Bill 1170 will become law. According to the Rapid City Journal, the bill redefines conflicts of interests as applies to members and spouses of 23 state boards and commissions. The new definitions are a result of the overburden of disclosures already required by state law, says Attorney A.J. Franken, and resulted from South Dakota Legislature passing the original conflicts law (House Bill 1214) last year.
HB 1170 will allow the attorney general's office to create a standard disclosure for the use of all 23 state boards and commissions. The new law also encompasses the second tier of "relationship contracts," which occur when the state board or commission member is employed in the contracting party, or has a spouse employed in the contracting party.
South Dakota's Obligation Recovery Center has successfully collected $1.25 million in unpaid fees and taxes, which has been given back to various state departments and agencies, reports the Rapid City Journal.
The Center is responsible for tracking down money that is owed the state through unpaid taxes, university tuition and fees, and court costs owed by criminal defendants. Those who owe can find themselves blocked from getting hunting/fishing licenses, or unable to renew drivers licenses or vehicle registrations. Once repayment has been made, or a payment plan agreed to, the block will be lifted. The Center is funded from the fees collected on past due obligations, which average around 20 percent.
For more information on state taxes, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
In February, new state revenue estimates were adopted by the state legislature when it became clear that South Dakota was looking at a $43 million shortfall. After reviewing revenue for February and March, it appears that the state is falling short of even those revised estimates, reports the Rapid City Journal.
Contributing factors include slow e-commerce and a lack of inflation, but also the slow downturn of the agriculture economy, which has been falling over the last six years. The estimates were off by the most in the category of insurance company tax, and state sales tax.
For more information on the 2017 legislature, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive.
South Dakota's Game, Fish, and Parks Department has placed its plans for the purposed Spearfish State Park as well as its acquisition of Bismarck Lake on hold for the time being. According to the Rapid City Journal, current circumstances including lack of public support and funds have prevented it being implemented though the department will continue working on areas it does own in Spearfish Canyon. These areas include Roughlock Falls, Spearfish Falls, and Savoy fishing pond.
To read up on past and current news articles related to Spearfish Canyon, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
For more information on the canyon and the state's postponed plans, check out the state's website concerning the project.
Following the repeal of Initiated Measure 22, a group is preparing a new ballot measure to replace it. The measure made changes to campaign finance and ethics laws, including limiting gifts to elected officials and instituting public campaign financing. Many legislators and the governor opposed the measure, feeling it was unworkable and unconstitutional. House Bill 1069 repealed the measure. The legislature went on to pass elements similar to those in Initiated Measure 22, such as through HB 1037, revising rules on gifts to elected officials; HB 1165, providing for annual updates on the financial interests of elected officials; Senate Bill 58, revising campaign financing; SB 131, setting rules for lobbyists; and SB 171, creating a task force on campaign finance.
Supporters of Initiated Measure 22 feel the legislature did not go far enough. According to the Rapid City Journal, Represent South Dakota is working on a new ballot measure they hope to have on the 2018 ballot. Besides rules on campaign financing, the measure will also include rules preventing the legislature from changing or repealing measures approved by the voters.
Further stories on this topic will be linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
The South Dakota House failed to garner enough support to override Governor Dennis Daugaard's vetoes of two gun bills that would have further loosened restrictions on carrying concealed guns in the state. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, HB 1072 would have eliminated the need for a permit to carry a concealed firearm while HB 1156 would have allowed guns to be carried in the Capitol building with a permit. Despite having a super majority of party members, Republicans in the South Dakota House were unable to convince the necessary two-thirds majority to override the vetoes.
To read up on past and current news articles related to the 2017 South Dakota State Legislative session, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
For more information on the state Legislature, check out its homepage.
Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed two bills concerning firearm permits, reports KOTA News. House Bill 1072 would have allowed South Dakota residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit, while the House Bill 1156 would have allowed concealed weapons inside the state capitol building.
In a statement, Governor Daugaard noted that proponents of HB 1072 did not provide sufficient evidence highlighting that individuals who were lawfully able to possess firearms were unable to secure a concealed carry permit. Additionally, the governor cited the necessity of the permit, as Minnehaha and Pennington County had denied 600 permit applications due to backgrounds of violent crimes, drugs, or mental health issues.
Governor Daugaard cited safety concerns for public officials, tourists, school children and state employees in his statement concerning his veto of HB 1156. He also stated that the Highway Patrol, which provides security for the Capitol, is sufficiently keeping the building safe without additional individuals carrying concealed weapons.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates 24 million people will be impacted by legislation concerning health insurance proposed by Republican legislators, reports the Rapid City Journal. The proposed legislation would reduce federal funding for Medicaid recipients and people with individual policies bought through the Affordable Care Act. This proposed health care plan would help save $337 billion of the federal deficit in a decade.
The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations issued a statement anticipating 25,000 South Dakotans could lose health coverage before 2019 because of this legislation. South Dakota could see reductions of $300 million annually in federal funding in an attempt to help manage the federal deficit.
For more recent health care news from the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive. You can learn more about the Affordable Care Act by visiting the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue page.
Legislators are looking to find $600,000 to fund a one year pilot program to combat methamphetamine use in South Dakota, reports the Rapid City Journal.
The program would also expand treatment offerings, including detox, inpatient care, halfway housing and aftercare. This program is being seen as a priority, because according to the deputy secretary of social services, meth addiction has doubled in South Dakota over the past five years. The increase in meth use has also been linked with an increased numbers of violent crimes in the state.
For more information on the 2017 Legislative Session, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
The South Dakota House of Representatives approved House Bill 1072, which would allow people to conceal carry without a permit. According to a Rapid City Journal article, the House voted 37-30 to send the bill to the Senate. Supporters of the bill argue that requiring a conceal carry permit only punishes legal gun owners.
Governor Dennis Daugaard has already announced his opposition to the bill.
The State Senate currently has several bills before it that deal with certain provisions from the repealed Initiative Measure 22. The Rapid City Journal reports that the bills under consideration cover areas of campaign finance (Senate Bill 171), conflicts of interest (House Bill 1170), ballot issues (House Bill 1141), as well as punishments for any campaign violations (House Bill 1089). After the protests and concerns that have risen since the repeal of IM 22 and its campaign provisions, lawmakers at the 2017 State Legislative session are still struggling to replace it a suitable ethics law.
To read up on past news articles related to the 2017 State Legislature, click on this archives link.
For more information on the Legislature itself, visit the South Dakota Legislature's homepage.
Governor Dennis Daugaard recently announced that he plans to veto two bills. House Bill 1091 would allow concealed carry weapons into the state Capitol building, while House Bill 1072 would allow people to conceal carry without a permit. According to the Rapid City Journal, Daugaard stated that 125 people in just Minnehaha County were denied concealed carry permits in 2016 for drug offenses, previous weapons violations and domestic violence arrests.
In regards to the state Capitol, people would need an enhanced permit, and would be required to register in advance with security if they wished to conceal carry. This bill has passed through the House of Representatives, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.
For news regarding the 2017 legislative session including pending legislation and contact information for your legislators, please visit the 2017 South Dakota Legislature Issue Hub.
Initiated Measure 22 has been officially repealed as of this past week, but it continues to be a hotly debated topic at crackerbarrel meetings. The Rapid City Journal reports that most lawmakers agreed that the ethics reform measure in its current form needed to be repealed, but voters are concerned by the legislature overturning a voter-approved initiative. Some legislators agree with their constituents and would have preferred the courts to decide on the measure's constitutional validity.
To read up on past and current news articles related to the 2017 State Legislative session, click on this archives link.
For more information on the current session, check out the Legislature's homepage.
A bill that established a state of emergency to allow for the swift repeal of Initiated Measure 22 recently passed the Senate State Affairs Committee by a vote of 7-2, reports KOTA News. Passing the legislation under a state of emergency essentially blocks the possibility of a referendum on the bill.
House Bill 1069 has already been passed by the full House, and will now go before the full Senate. Governor Dennis Daugaard has agreed to sign a repeal of the measure, according to the Washington Post.
Initiated Measure 22 was approved by South Dakota voters in the November 2016 election 52 percent to 48 percent.
Visit the 2017 South Dakota State Legislature resource page to learn about pending legislation and find contact information for your South Dakota representatives. Learn more about the 2016 elections at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Legislators met for the public for the first, and maybe last, time under new Crackerbarrel rules. In the past, audience members at the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce Crackerbarrels were called on to ask their questions to the attending legislators. In the new format, audience members must submit written questions to be organized and posed by moderators. The stated goal was efficiency, but the Rapid City Journal reported that several legislators felt the new format was restrictive and said they would not return if it continued.
The ballot measure process was also discussed at the Crackerbarrel session. Initiated Measure 22, the ethics law, received approval from over 51 percent of voters, but has been opposed by some Republican lawmakers, including a legal challenge that has resulted in the law being suspended until the case comes to court. Representative Craig Tieszen spoke against it, while Senator Lance Russell said he felt it was a conflict of interest to work to repeal a law that targeted lawmakers.
Some legislators feel that it is too easy to add ballot measures, leading to discussion of Senate Bill 67. If passed, ballot measures would require signatures from a percentage of registered voters to make it onto the ballot, instead of a percentage of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election.
Follow topics for their year's legislative session in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive. For more information on bills pending in the South Dakota Legislature as well as information on your state representative, visit our 2017 South Dakota State Legislature Resource Page.