Mental health and hemp are top South Dakota issues

Published: Apr. 25, 2019 at 11:45 AM CDT
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South Dakota lawmakers will tackle some tough topics in summer study sessions; one so large it is split into five task forces.

Access to mental health services was studied in 2018 but the Legislature still needs to work on the problem. Here are the five task forces:

• Task Force #1 will redefine acute mental health hospitalizations.

• Task Force #2 will look at how to reduce overall use of acute mental health hospitalizations.

• Task Force #3 focus is on how to effectively leverage telehealth and telemedicine services.

• Task Force #4 will redefine nursing home criteria for people with organic brain damage.

• Task Force #5 is charged with studying community services and caregiver supports.

While the Legislature failed to overturn Gov. Kristi Noem’s veto of an

this year, the lawmakers opted to study the issue this summer.

The committee will take a look at regulations and cost of implementing an industrial hemp program. This includes the economic impacts of producing and selling industrial hemp; cost and challenges for police; and need for registration, licenses, permits, and seed certification.

Three other issues will be studied: special education costs; electrical services in areas annexed by cities; and alternatives to prison for drug offenders.

You can follow the work of these summer study committees by going to the South Dakota Legislative Research website and click on the


2019 Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 - Enrolled

        A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, To provide for legislative task forces to study, report, and develop and consider recommendations and proposed legislation regarding sustainable improvements to the continuum of mental health services available in the state.
    WHEREAS, mental health issues in the State of South Dakota constitute a public health crisis; and
    WHEREAS, communities, families, and individuals face a broad spectrum of mental health challenges on a daily basis; and
    WHEREAS, South Dakota is faced with a high rate of suicide; and
    WHEREAS, productive, long-term solutions are needed to address mental health access; and
    WHEREAS, regionally focused solutions are the pathway to provide mental health access for all citizens; and
    WHEREAS, separate task forces should be established to study, review, and identify each of the following:
            (1)    Redefine acute mental health hospitalizations in the areas of short, intermediate, and long-term placement, with emphasis on keeping individuals needing placement in community whenever possible;
            (2)    Reduce the overall use of acute mental health hospitalizations by developing and supporting existing alternatives where appropriate, create community-based short-stay alternatives, and develop day treatment options;
            (3)    Leverage telehealth and telemedicine to the full appropriate extent, with focus on the areas of acute assessment and crisis supports, along with mental health assessments and counseling;
            (4)    Redefine Human Service Center nursing home admission criteria and build mental health nursing home capacity for persons with organic brain damage; and
            (5)    Increase the capacity for transitional housing and residential services in communities to keep individuals closer to home, and develop caregiver supports; and
    WHEREAS, the task forces should consist of subgroups to study each recommended area, as

appointed by the Legislature, and task force subgroups should meet at least three times per year; and

    WHEREAS, the task forces should make recommendations in a report to the Legislature no later than December 31, 2019, which should address changes necessary within state and county programs and any other areas deemed necessary:

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Senate of the Ninety-Fourth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the House of Representatives concurring therein, that the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council is hereby directed to establish task forces on the status of mental health care in order to further the objectives described in this resolution.