Legislative Cracker Barrel covers “fairness in women’s sports”, Custer State Park bills

With the South Dakota legislative session in full swing, local lawmakers are facing questions from voters in the area.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — On Saturday, area residents voiced their concerns to state legislators at a Cracker Barrell session at Western Dakota Tech, which was hosted by Elevate Rapid City.

Voters expressed their concern with a number of controversial proposals making their way through the statehouse in Pierre.

With the South Dakota legislative session in full swing, local lawmakers are facing questions from voters at home.

One major topic of discussion was Senate Bill 46, which aims to “Protect fairness in women’s sports.”

Opponents of the bill say that its a direct act of discrimination towards transgender athletes.

But lawmakers argue it pertains to the biological makeup of the athlete.

Legislative Cracker Barrel 1

“It has to do with biology and it doesn’t mean that there’s anyone that’s excluded from playing,” said State Sen. Jessica Castleberry, who represents District 35. “That’s really important to make sure that people understand, everybody still gets the chance to play.”

Earlier this week, House Bill 1049, which looks to allocate roughly $2.5 million in state funds for a shooting range in Meade County was voted down in committee.

But that might not be the end of the facility, as the South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks Department looks to alleviate some concerns.

“We’re gonna be great neighbors, Game, Fish, & Parks will be ensuring that, you know, the community there is not disrupted and it’s not negatively impacted in any way,” said Department Secretary Kevin Robling.

Legislators also heard concerns surrounding House Bill 1048, which is a bill that would allocate state funds for new campsites in Custer State Park.

But the latest proposal from Governor Kristi Noem changes the location, cuts the cost to $4.8 million from $10 million campsite total to 66 from 170.

However, legislators say that’s not enough for concerned residents, who want the bill voted down no matter what.

“It’s just that simple, and when you’ve heard this much from this many people, because once you start making these changes and go down this path, we can’t go back to the way it was,” said State Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, who represents District 30. “There’s no going back.”

Robling clarified that the funds would go towards the full construction of the project, including infrastructure, not just campsites. According to Robling, of the $4.8 million, each campsite will cost $8,000 to $10,000 with electrical hookups only, making the total $666,000. A total of about $2 million will go towards infrastructure.

He also said that two comfort stations for the site will cost around $700,000.

Hoping to fill a need for camping spaces that Robling says should pay for themselves in 15 years.

“We have a supply and demand issue,” Robling said. “Right now we’re 87% occupied today for 2022, so I mean those campsites are in high high demand. This will help. It’s not going to take care near the demand, but it’ll help offset some of that so all families can enjoy the crown jewel.”

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