Looking ahead to the 2020 legislative session

PIERRE, S.D. — Governor Kristi Noem is pledging to focus on growing the economy and improve her working relationship with lawmakers in the new year.

The legislative session kicks off January 14 with Noem’s state of the state address.

As we begin 2020 let’s take a look at what we can expect to see out of South Dakota’s legislature this year.

Many issues that came before the legislature in 2019 will be addressed again early in the new year during the state’s legislative session.

After two pieces of legislation were successfully challenged in federal court this past year, Gov. Noem aims to take another swing at what’s been deemed riot boosting laws.

The governor recently wrote to legislators the proposed changes she’s planning to make that ultimately aim to prevent violence during protests for the Keystone XL Pipeline construction.

In response, legislation is set to be drafted and come before the state that would establish a liability fund in the event of an oil spill caused by the pipeline.

Another topic to resurface this year: legalizing industrial hemp.

South Dakota law makers are already working to construct a bill for the upcoming session that would pave the way for hemp to be grown in the state.

Gov. Noem stated previously that South Dakota is not yet ready for industrial hemp and vetoed the bill. An attempt to override the veto succeeded in the house but failed in the senate.

Some argue hemp could be a cash crop but Noem says legalization would impede marijuana law enforcement.

With felony drug arrests on the rise, South Dakota is expected to take a closer look at controlled substance offenses.

Proponents for change argue two different solutions: either reclassifying certain felonies as misdemeanors or offering more opportunities for diversion programs.

Law makers will have research conducted in a summer study to weigh their options moving forward.

The governor is also tasked with passing her FY 20-21 budget proposed earlier this month, with a price of $4.92 billion.

The budget aims to address the meth epidemic by committing $3.7 million to support treatment and law enforcement efforts.

Another several hundred thousand dollars is set aside to increase the number of families serving the foster system.

To stand for children in private-run treatment facilities, Gov. Noem says she plans to push for more oversight in state licensing and inspections.

And another topic addressed — weather.

Weather proved to be most challenging this past year for South Dakotans. Sixty-three counties were included in four disaster declarations. Tornadoes, blizzards, and other severe storms left damage across the state.

In Gov. Noem’s budget proposal, $9 million would fund disaster relief and extra state dollars to incentivize local governments to fund mitigation projects.

Other priorities addressed in the governor’s budget include funding for special education, assisted living facilities, and expanded access to internet across the state.

The session begins on January 14 with Gov. Noem’s state of the state address.

Categories: Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News