PIERRE | Some legislators want more changes in South Dakota’s laws on nonmeandered waters than Gov. Dennis Daugaard seeks, Sen. Jeff Partridge said Tuesday.
Nonmeandered waters belong to the public but are over private land as hundreds of trapped waters developed across South Dakota from heavy rains and snows during recent decades.
Nonmeandered refers to water bodies that weren’t reliably present when government surveyors worked through Dakota Territory before 1889 statehood.
The South Dakota Supreme Court said last year the Legislature needed to decide how they should be managed.
The Legislature held a one-day special session June 12 and declared two sets of principles. Nearly all nonmeandered should be open to recreational uses unless private landowners close them, lawmakers decided. But lawmakers also established a list of two dozen-plus waters that must be open to recreational uses.
Trying to close any of those from the Section 8 list requires asking the Game, Fish & Parks Commission for permission. The commission hasn’t granted any request so far.
Partridge, R-Rapid City, said some senators have been talking about the issue nearly every week since autumn about what they’d like.
Daugaard, a Republican, wants only the date changed so the laws are repealed June 30, 2021. Legislative leaders from both chambers and both parties meanwhile filed a bill Tuesday that sets the date at July 1, 2021. Partridge amended the legislation last summer so the laws repeal June 30, 2018.
Some House members showed frustration when the Senate wouldn’t budge.
Daugaard’s new bill, SB 24, is scheduled for a hearing Thursday by the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, is chairman.
A hearing hadn’t been set yet for the legislative leaders’ bill, HB 1081. The prime sponsor is Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center.
Partridge said the senators’ ideas would be presented next to some House members. He said the plan is to introduce a separate bill, rather than attempt to substantially alter the governor’s bill.
“We need to do this right,” Partridge said.
Partridge said the group of senators is interested in a uniform process for determining which waters should be closed.
He said they generally don’t like the two standards and want all waters to be legally designated as open, with landowners allowed to ask for closures.
Another idea that some senators support is a 660-foot safety zone in all directions from a structure, Partridge said.
A third concept is limiting how long a water body can be closed, Partridge said. The landowner would have to apply again for closure when the period expired.
The two chambers officially introduced more legislation Tuesday. There were 84 House bills and 78 Senate bills by 4 p.m. MST.
One bill, HB 1076, would allow townships to levy an additional tax for emergency medical services. Its prime sponsor is Rep. Dan Ahlers, D-Dell Rapids. The lead Senate sponsor is Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids.
Another, SB 78, would add the House and Senate education committee chairs to the state Board of Education Standards. Sen. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, is the prime sponsor of the bill. The lead House sponsor is Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls.