Legislative panel kills bill restricting conservation officers’ access to private lands

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 11:54 AM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee killed a bill that would have prevented South Dakota conservation officers from entering onto private lands.

HB 1140 was offered by the State Game, Fish and Parks Department at the urging of Gov. Kristi Noem. A number of West River landowners testified their support in Tuesday morning’s hearing, as did lobbyists representing the state stock growers, cattlemen and a number of hunting guide and outfitter associations.

Opposition came from former state GF&P Secretaries John Cooper and Jeff Vonk, and a host of conservation groups and associations, according to the South Dakota Broadcasters Association. South Dakota Wildlife Federation President Zach Hunke called the bill, “a problem in search of a solution.”

More than 90 minutes of testimony followed before judiciary committee members began their line of questioning.

Sen. Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown grilled Noem’s General Council Mark Miller who attempted to engage Schoenbeck directly. That prompted Committee Chairman Arthur Rusch, a retired circuit judge, or gavel Miller ‘out of order’ – something rarely seen in any legislative procedure.

Schoenbeck then made a motion to send HB 1140 to the 41st day, effectively killing the bill. The Judiciary Committee then voted unanimously in support of the Schoenbeck motion.

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