PIERRE — Members of the Democratic Party leadership in the Legislature predicted success for two ballot measures that legalize marijuana use in South Dakota.

They made their remarks to more than 30 editors and publishers who were in Pierre Thursday, Jan. 30 for Newspaper Day at the Legislature, sponsored by the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

“I think those two ballot initiatives probably have a chance,” said Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert, Mission, of initiatives to legalize the use of recreational marijuana and medical marijuana.

How the Legislature handles the possible passage of those initiatives concerns Heinert, who doesn’t want lawmakers to overturn the will of the people the way they did after the passage of Initiated Measure 22 in 2016. IM 22 revised the state’s campaign finance and lobbying laws.

“Where we come in and strike that down,” Heinert said. “That would be a big mistake on our part.”

Assistant House Minority Leader Steven McCleery, Sisseton, said his biggest concern is infrastructure, especially at the county level. With the state’s rivers full and plenty snow on the ground in some areas, he predicts flooding in the spring.

“I don’t think most people have any idea of what that’s going to look like,” McCleery said.

The state needs to find another revenue source that can be funneled to counties so they can deal with fixing roads and bridges, McCleery said. While he wouldn’t disclose the content of the bill, McCleery said that he has a bill coming that would offer another revenue source.

“We’re going to have that discussion,” McCleery said. “We’re going to talk about revenue.”

The Senate will also be talking about outlawing gender altering surgery and medications for minors as HB1057 passed through the House on Wednesday.

“It’s bad public policy to pass laws for the sole purpose of trying to create a lawsuit,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Craig Kennedy, Yankton. “We have more important things, in my opinion, that we should be focusing our time and effort on.”

House Minority Leader Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls said all legislators are working to find extra funding for what’s known as the Big Three: education, Medicaid providers and state employee salaries. In her December budget address, Gov. Kristi Noem said there would be no funding available for increases in those areas.

“That zero was not an option on any of our minds,” Smith said.


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