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Legislature to debate industrial hemp, guns in the Capitol

March 3, 2019
South Dakota Highway Patrol official Rick Miller shows lawmakers evidence bags of hemp and marijuana during a committee hearing for a bill to legalize industrial hemp in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. The panel approved the measure despite heavy pressure from Gov. Kristi Noem. (AP Photo/James Nord)

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers plan to debate bills this week to allow industrial hemp cultivation, let people bring concealed handguns into the Capitol and set the state’s official indigenous language.

Some of the what’s on the agenda when the Legislature returns Monday to Pierre:

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HEMP

The Senate floor may be the last stop for a high-profile bill to legalize industrial hemp before it reaches Gov. Kristi Noem. A committee approved the proposal last week despite opposition from Noem, who asked lawmakers not to pass such a bill this year. Her administration says officials believe allowing hemp cultivation would come with a multi-million dollar price tag and lead to another push to permit marijuana in South Dakota.

Noem said Friday that the bill still “gravely concerns” her.

The 2018 federal farm bill legalized cultivation of industrial hemp nationally, and supporters say there’s an industry ready in South Dakota to start processing hemp products. They say planting wouldn’t even happen until 2020 under the bill, which defines industrial hemp as containing no more than 0.3 percent THC.

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GUNS AT THE CAPITOL

Representatives are to debate a measure that would allow people with enhanced concealed carry permits to bring guns into the state Capitol. The measure would require notifying security before carrying in the Capitol. It wouldn’t extend to the Supreme Court chamber or private offices that have controlled access, like the governor’s office.

If passed, the bill would go to Noem. She signed a bill in January to let people carry concealed pistols without a permit.

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INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE

House lawmakers will take up a measure that would recognize the official indigenous language of South Dakota as that of the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation. The language is made up of three dialects: Dakota, Lakota and Nakota.

The measure passed unanimously through the Senate and a House panel. Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert, the bill’s sponsor, has said it’s important that South Dakota recognizes “part of our unique history.”

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DRUG INGESTION

A bill setting up a state task force to study South Dakota’s drug ingestion law is set for debate Monday in the House Judiciary Committee. The panel’s purview would also include looking at alternatives to imprisonment for people convicted of ingestion and the financial effects of reducing the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor.

South Dakota in 2013 passed a justice system overhaul to tackle prison overcrowding, cut costs and expand drug addiction treatment options. A 2016 report from the Urban Institute said the state is one of the only ones to make drug ingestion a felony and recommended dropping the penalty to a misdemeanor.

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CIVICS TEST

Should high school students have to pass a civics test to graduate? The full Senate is set to debate a bill from Noem that would put the requirement into law. The measure calls for high school students to score at least 70 percent on the test to get a diploma.

The civics exam would include at least 50 questions from the U.S. citizenship test. The House had cut the number of questions to 10, but a Senate panel undid the changes.

Noem said in her State of the State address that it’s only fair that young people demonstrate a basic knowledge of the nation’s institutions and history before graduating from high school and taking on their responsibilities as citizens.

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MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

A bill that would direct state authorities to prepare guidelines for the reporting and investigation of missing and murdered indigenous women and children is scheduled for a Monday hearing in the House State Affairs Committee. It would require the Division of Criminal Investigation to establish training programs for law enforcement on conducting investigations into missing and slain Native American women and children.

The bill would also require the division to collect and share information on missing and murdered indigenous people with similar agencies of other states, tribal entities, local government officials and federal agencies.

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SPORTS BETTING

The House State Affairs Committee also plans to debate a measure that would ask voters to allow sports betting in historic Deadwood. The push comes after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way last year for all states to offer legal sports betting.

Supporters say the change would help keep Deadwood competitive as a gambling destination. The state Revenue Department has opposed the measure, contending regulation costs would exceed revenues generated.

The proposed 2020 constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to authorize wagering in Deadwood and at tribal casinos.

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