PIERRE, S.D. -- Legislators are set to examine topics like hemp's potential impact on the state, the fiscal and human impact of South Dakota's drug laws and mental health treatment accessibility in this year's summer legislative studies.
The Legislature's Executive Board on Tuesday, April 23 finalized the study topics and membership. Legislative interim studies take place every year while legislators are not in session, looking at data and testimony from field experts to see if and how legislators can improve laws when they reconvene the following session.
Legislators were asked in a survey administered during the 2019 legislative session which topics they felt most need further studying for potential 2020 lawmaking. The most common answers were hemp legalization and methamphetamine addiction.
The study on industrial hemp will look at the potential impact of legalizing the growth and production of the crop in the state, and how many extraordinary costs to law enforcement could be incurred. The study comes after House Bill 1191, a bill to legalize hemp growth and production, was passed by the Legislature in March but vetoed by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.
House Minority Whip Rep. Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade, who introduced HB 1191 this year, will be one of 11 legislators on the study. House Majority Leader Rep. Lee Qualm, R-Platte, a supporter of hemp legalization since HB 1191's introduction, will chair the study.
The executive board on Tuesday also voted to establish a subcommittee of five legislators to study the state's methamphetamine addiction and treatment problem, to be chaired by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission.
The methamphetamine subcommittee falls under a fuller study, comprised of 15 members total, that will study alternatives to imprisonment for drug offenses, treatment options for addiction and the fiscal ramifications to the state and local governments for incarcerating drug offenders. House Speaker Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, will chair the study and Assistant Senate Minority Leader Sen. Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton, will be vice chair.
Board members on Tuesday also appointed a total of 20 legislators to serve on five smaller, four-person task forces, which will each examine different aspects of mental health treatment accessibility in the state.