Highlights of the fifth week of Session included Senate passage of the felony animal cruelty bill, House passage of a statewide texting ban, Senate passage of a package of domestic violence protection bills, and House defeat of a second attempt to allow concealed weapons in the Capitol. Discussions are ongoing over the issues of nonmeandered waters, prenatal care for unborn children of illegal immigrants, and expanded Deadwood gaming.
SB46 is the bill to create a felony penalty for intentional, willful, and malicious cruelty that inflicts gross physical abuse on an animal that causes prolonged pain, serious physical injury, or death of the animal. Neglect, abandonment, or mistreatment of an animal would continue to be a misdemeanor offense. The bill contains specific exemptions for veterinary care, livestock agriculture, hunting, and fishing. It was written by the State Veterinarian with input from livestock groups and local humane societies. It passed the Senate without any dissenting votes and now moves to the House.
The statewide texting ban, HB1177, passed the House 53-17 and now moves to the Senate, where another texting bill will be considered in Senate Transportation committee. The House version of the bill creates a secondary offense for texting while driving. Under the bill, law enforcement officers cannot stop a motorist for texting; however, a driver who was stopped for some other reason could be ticketed for texting. The bill also institutes a public awareness campaign to reduce texting while driving.
The Senate passed a package of six bills regarding domestic violence. Senate bills 2 – 7 came out of a summer study of the issue, and are designed to enhance protections against domestic abuse. In addition the Senate Education Committee passed SB154 to establish the Jolene’s Law Task Force to study the impact of sexual abuse of children and to make policy recommendations on ways to effectively address the issue.
After a lengthy debate, the House failed to pass by a vote of 33-34 a bill to repeal the prohibition against carrying permitted concealed weapons in the Capitol. Earlier in the week, the House State Affairs committee killed a bill that would have restricted the posting of Gun Free Zone signs in public buildings, and House Transportation committee killed this year’s version of the “guns in trunks” bill. House Local Government will be considering HB1253, a bill to “ensure the rights of gun owners statewide and protect the residents of South Dakota from federal gun regulations.”
If there is a specific bill or issue of interest, please feel free to contact any of your District 24 legislators. Complete committee information, as well as our contact information, may be found on the Legislative Research Council website at: http://legis.state.sd.us
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