PIERRE, S.D. -- It's been a busy week in Pierre. With Monday, Feb. 25 being "Crossover Day" -- the deadline for bills to pass their body of origin -- lawmakers stayed into the night debating hot-button issues like teaching "both sides" of scientific theories like Evolution in schools, mandating clergy to report child abuse and requiring transgender high school athletes to compete according to their birth sex.

Despite Republican Gov. Kristi Noem's opposition, hemp legalization is still on the table after a Senate committee's approval on Thursday. House Bill 1191 now heads to the Senate floor with a vote, where Republican and Democratic leaders say it has support. If approved, it goes next to Noem's desk.

With less than two weeks left in the session and many of the state's controversial bills dead, all eyes are on the state budget. Lawmakers and Noem said that their priority going into negotiations is solving the state's nursing home funding crisis.

Here are some of the other issues covered this week in Pierre:

Campaign contributions

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The House State Affairs committee on Wednesday voted 10-3 in favor of Senate Bill 114, which would require campaign contribution from minors to be attributed to their parents. Prime sponsor and Senate Minority Whip Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, said the bill is aimed to close a loophole in the state's campaign contribution law.

South Dakota cuts off individuals' yearly contributions to a candidate at $1,000. But, citing an instance reported by the Argus Leader, Nesiba said parents can donate in their children's names, bypassing the legal contribution limit.

House Speaker Pro-Tempore Rep. Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, said the bill is "going after kids for no reason." If a parent has already maxed out their donation limit, he said SB 114 restricts their child from donating even a small amount if they want to. And if a parent wishes to donate more than $1,000, he said they could create a PAC and donate up to $10,000, anyway.

Rep. David Anderson, R-Hudson, retorted that the state's PAC process and campaign finance laws are in place for a reason. Allowing parents to donate large sums of money in their children's names, though, "really is an intent to circumvent the law."

"Otherwise, we might as well take the law and just throw it out the window and have no restrictions whatsoever," Anderson said.

SB 114 now moves on to the House floor for a vote.


The House on Monday voted 59-9 in favor of Senate Bill 72, which requires providers to use a consent form for abortions written by the state Department of Health. The governor's office, which recommended the bill, has said that the intent of HB 72 is to ensure that providers are abiding by the state's "informed consent" laws.

Abortion providers are already required to have patients sign a consent form to the procedure, but SB 72 would require providers use the DOH's form rather than their own. The DOH's 13-page form includes detailed descriptions of fetal development in two-week increments, information on organizations -- several religious -- providing abortion alternatives and descriptions of late-term abortion procedures that the Sioux Falls clinic doesn't perform.

Sarah Stoesz, the president of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund said in a Wednesday statement that SB 72 "substitutes a government mandate for a doctor’s judgment about how to counsel their patients."

"Politicians are therefore denigrating the informed consent process, when a patient and her doctor openly discuss the diagnosis, prognosis and possible options — privately, without outside interference," she said.

Spokesperson Jen Aulwes said Planned Parenthood's lawyers "will be looking at it and determining if there are any legal steps to take."

Noem said at a Friday news conference that she is "not afraid of a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood."

"This bill that we are bringing forward would make it very clear that we intend for them to follow the laws of the state of South Dakota," she said.

Aulwes said in January that Planned Parenthood’s consent form has been audited several times by the state and has never been found in violation of the law.