PIERRE | The state House of Representatives is considering a change for South Dakota elections that could turn significant.
Rep. Drew Dennert wants lawmakers to let registered independents cast ballots in South Dakota’s party-primary elections. To do so, an independent would first need to mark a party preference.
They also could choose to be neutral. And, between elections, they could change their minds and pick different parties, too.
The House State Affairs Committee liked his idea. Panel members voted 10-2 Wednesday evening to recommend HB 1305 pass. No one spoke against it.
“This bill is a response partially to conversations I’ve had in my district with constituents,” Dennert, R-Aberdeen, said.
The House could take it up Monday afternoon. Dennert said the debate might occur Tuesday.
In South Dakota, political parties decide whether primary elections are open. The Democratic and Libertarian parties allow independents to vote in their primaries. The Constitution and Republican parties close their primaries.
Dennert said he was concerned about a new development that he called an “open-jungle primary” being adopted in South Dakota. A constitutional amendment that would change South Dakota to an open-jungle system was submitted last year for the November statewide ballot. In an open-jungle primary, the top two vote-winners for an office advance to the general election.
He said Louisiana, California and Washington use the system.
Dennert said he doesn’t like that approach. He gave an example: Two Republican candidates advanced from the primary over three Democratic candidates. He prefers “a competition of ideas” on the fall ballot.
Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory, said people who currently are independents would have to make a trip to the county courthouse to re-register.
Dennert said she was correct. Getting independents to change would require an effort, he said. “In large part, it would have to be a p.r. campaign."
But candidates also could recruit independents to support them, Dennert suggested.
House Democratic leader Spencer Hawley of Brookings said voters registered as independents chose to be independents. “They say, ‘I don’t want to pick a party affiliation,” Hawley said.
Independent registrations have grown, Rep. David Lust, R-Rapid City, said. “This gives them the chance to participate in the process,” he said.
Bartling agreed: “I’m intrigued by the concept. I’m still not 100 percent sure on the mechanisms of it, but I think it’s something we can explore.”
Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, said voters could play the roles of spoilers in primaries.
Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, said that already happens. “They can do that now. They can register, (and) re-register every day,” he said.
Rhoden, the committee chairman, supported Dennert’s idea. “It’s certainly worth conversation,” Rhoden said.
PIERRE | Pharmacy-benefits managers couldn’t prohibit or penalize pharmacists who talk to customers about prescription drug prices, under a proposal that’s now one step from final approval by the South Dakota Legislature.
The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 11-0 for the ban Thursday. SB 141 goes to the House of Representatives for a possible final decision Monday afternoon.
The Senate on Monday voted 34-0 for it. If the House agrees, the measure heads to the desk of Gov. Dennis Daugaard for review and possibly his signature.
Rep. Spencer Gosch presented the bill Thursday. “We’re going to let the experts talk about what’s going on here,” said Gosch, R-Glenham.
Dennis Duncan, a Parker lawyer representing Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said biotech companies employ about 2,000 in South Dakota. The legislation would bring “some transparency to the relationship between the patient and the pharmacist,” according to Duncan.
He said paying cash to a pharmacy for a prescription sometimes has been less expensive than using insurance. Patients should be able compare prices, Duncan said.
South Dakota Pharmacists Association President Eric Grocott told lawmakers the organization supported it.
No one spoke against the ban. Committee members agreed with what they heard. “I think this is a consumer friendly bill,” said Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre.
“It makes a little bit of headway on drug costs,” added Rep. Mike Diedrich, R-Rapid City.
A one-vehicle rollover west of Lusk, Wyo., on Monday left one Rapid City man dead and another injured.
According to a release from the Wyoming Highway Patrol, Eugene Sibal, 52, of Rapid City died after the 2006 Chevy Silverado pickup he was driving slid out of control on an icy roadway on U.S. Highway 18/20 near Lost Springs, west of Lusk.
The eastbound pickup slid off the roadway into the westbound right-of-way. The driver then corrected to the right, crossing the highway and into the eastbound right-of-way, where the pickup struck an embankment and overturned.
The crash was reported at 11:36 a.m. Sibal was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger, Craig Engel, 60, of Piedmont, was treated for injuries and released on scene. Both men were wearing seat belts.
Investigators said speed may have been a factor in the crash.