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Keystone XL Pipeline bills fly through legislature

Anti-riot-boosting and extraordinary-expenses almost law

  • Updated

Three days is all it took to introduce two bills asked for by the governor, to pass them, and to get them back to the governor’s desk.

The first of the bills, Senate Bill 189, creates a fund paid for from civil fines, to be used to help pay costs caused by “riot boosting”. “Riot boosting” is defined in SB 189 as the direct or behind-the-scenes instigating of rioting or purposefully trying to be arrested. The other bill, SB 190, creates special fees for extraordinary expenses, incurred mostly by counties, because of violent acts of disruption. It also allows counties to sue people who instigate such violence. Though supporters said they hoped they never would be used, both bills were written to preemptively address possible costs related to protests-turned-riots related to the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline through western South Dakota.

The legislature suspended its own rules to allow the past-deadline filing of both bills. They were first read on March 4, and passed through the Joint Committee on Appropriations on March 6. The next morning, they were first passed by on the Senate floor, and were carried across the building to be passed by the House of Representatives.

The bills were not signed into law on the same day. Though they will be signed within the next few, most likely in a public signing ceremony, said Kristin Wileman, press secretary for the Governor’s Office. As part of the bills, they will go into effect immediately after being signed into law.

Noem, as is her habit when possible, was present in the capitol, chatting with legislators, staff, lobbyists, and others as she roamed the halls. She was not visible, though, in the Senate nor in the House when her bills passed there.

SB 189 got through the joint committee with a vote of 14-4, while SB 190 passed 15-3. Before the full Senate voted, the Senators were reminded by the President of the Senate - the Lieutenant Governor - that the bills called for funds and thus had to pass by a two-thirds vote. SB 189 passed with a 30-4 majority, and SB 190 by 34-3. The House passed SB 189 with a 53-13 vote, and SB 190 by 58-8.

Both houses heard testimony for and against the bills themselves. Pros and cons were voiced concerning the pipeline, protesting versus rioting, factual versus perception, other state’s experiences versus South Dakota’s, liability of freedom of speech versus illegal acts.

Both houses heard complaints that not enough time was given to the bills, and some people and groups were left out of the discussion. That the bills will take effect immediately once signed is because pipeline construction, and thus any protests, could start before the usual law-implementing date of July 1.