This week I’d like to review some of the bills I sponsored in the 2013 Legislative Session. Several of my bills (House Bills 1144, 1145, 1146, 1147, and 1148) were constituent ideas. Remember a bill is a vehicle by which present laws are changed or repealed and by which new laws are made. Bills are ideas presented by an individual legislator, several legislators, a committee or a task force.
Generally I travel to Pierre in the summer prior to Session and discuss proposed legislation with representatives of the Legislative Research Council. Many times my constituents meet with us. Attorneys in the LRC then draft my bills so I can present them to the Legislature for review. The following are bills my constituents asked me to propose during the 2013 Legislative Session:
HB 1144 permits the euthanization of wildlife that have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, if a wildlife animal is injured by a motor vehicle accident any person may euthanize the seriously injured animal so that it will not suffer needlessly if that person has the means, skill and will to euthanize the animal humanely. Section 2 of the bill states that any person who euthanizes a wildlife animal shall report the event to the Department of Game, Fish and Parks or any conservation office within 24 hours. HB 1144 was passed into law and will take effect July 1st, 2013.
HB 1145 provided that road-killed animals are in the public domain and provided the means of possession. In other words, this bill gave persons permission to take possession of a road-killed animal. HB 1145 met with major opposition in the House Transportation Committee as members stated that it would permit poaching of wild animals. While researching this bill I inquired about the amount of money our state spends annually to pick up deer kill/small animals. I learned that if the animal is picked up on a county road, the GF&P Department pays 100 percent of the pick up costs. If the animal is picked up on a state highway, then GF&P and the Department of Transportation split the costs 50/50. In FY12 as a state, $280,000 was spent by both entities. And in FY11 $269,000 was spent. This bill failed to make it out of committee.
HB 1146 prohibited private trapping by conservation officers and certain GF&P employees. This bill was drafted at the request of several private fur trappers who felt state employees were trapping fur-bearing animals during regular work hours for their own profit and interfering with private trappers’ abilities to make a living. Sometimes bills are drafted for the sole purpose of discussing a controversial issue. Many times the issue is resolved merely by presenting a bill for discussion. This bill failed in committee.
HB 1147 transferred the administration and supervision of all trapping statutes and rules to the Department of Agriculture. Basically this bill transferred all trapping statutes and rules from GF&P to the Department of Agriculture. Once again, this bill was drafted for discussion. Several constituents testified about practices of the GF&P Department they felt were overreaching and unfair. HB 1147 was discussed extensively in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee; however, it went to the fictitious 41st Day.
And, HB 1148 revised certain provisions relating to the checking of traps and removal of caught animals. This bill attempted to unify the time fur trappers checked their traps and removed caught animals statewide. Currently check times are different East and West River causing confusion. GF&P has issued thousands of dollars of tickets to South Dakota trappers for violations. The bill further gave trappers leeway for physical illness and severe weather in complying with current provisions. However, this bill too was controversial, but perhaps common sense will prevail on both sides of the issue. It also went to the 41st day, but the discussion was very beneficial.
Next week I will continue with bills, resolutions and commemorations I sponsored in the 2013 Session. Thank you for your continued support and interest in South Dakota State government. Please feel free to contact me if you have suggestions for improving our state’s laws. I can be reached at (605) 352-9862 or .