Hemp bill amendment surprises South Dakota state Senate, foils favorable vote

The state Senate voted 21-14 in favor of the Industrial Hemp bill (House Bill 1191), only to hear Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden announce the vote had failed.

In considering the bill, the full Senate took its turn at HB 1191, again going through a lengthy rehashing of what the House, and a Senate Committee already heard and debated. This time was different in that the bill had been rewritten in include a few suggestions from Gov. Kristi Noem; otherwise a the potential veto loomed over the process. Finally the Senators voted. The YEAS were 21; the NAYS were 14; and the NAYS won.

From the balcony, the many “What?” exclamations were clearly audible.

Wearing his hat of the President of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor announced that the vote needed to win by two-thirds. When challenged, he said the bill had set-aside funding, as such it was an appropriations bill and required a two-thirds vote in favor.

Senators scrambled. Interns and pages were sent running for copies of the original bill and for copies of House rules. The Rnoden signed bills passed earlier in the meeting, while Senators clumped together to debate whether the bill was, in fact an appropriations bill. If that piece of information had been brought up during the Senate’s discussion of the bill, more than a few senators had missed it.

Finally, with most of the Senators back in their seats, a motion to reconsider the previous vote was made. This time, a simple majority of 23-12 won. Still the Senate decided to delay its second vote on the industrial hemp bill to another day.

During the earlier debate, the newly rewritten bill that was specifically rewritten to include the governor’s requirements, was distributed to each Senator. was poured over section by section, with an emphasis on how much was added in the way of control over the hemp industry and its transportation. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture would have the ability to adjust regulations as the need arose. Law enforcement was given more latitude.

South Dakota will face the coming of the hemp industry whether HB 1191 passes or not. The federal government now allows it, so indian reservations can and likely will, and interstate trade of hemp will go through South Dakota.