PIERRE – South Dakota landowners should be able to use the state Agriculture Department’s mediation services for disputes with federal land management agencies and with oil and gas developers, the state House of Representatives decided Wednesday.

The vote was 70-0. HB 1003 now moves to the Senate for consideration. The expansion results in part from the Legislature’s special oil and gas study last year.

“It’s imperative we get that land back into its previous state as soon as possible,” Rep. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, said.

No one spoke against the measure.

Mediation isn’t binding legally, according to Rep. Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell. “It is simply an opportunity for them to get together and hammer out any disagreements they might have,” she said.

The fee for the users would be $50 for the first hour and $25 per hour after. “It’s revenue neutral. It doesn’t cost us anything,” Rozum said.

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