7 bills pending on nonmeandered waters

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By Bob Mercer, American News Correspondent

PIERRE — Seven bills that deal with nonmeandered waters are pending in the South Dakota Legislature.

As of Feb. 9, none of the bills has won approval from both legislative chambers. Passing a bill in the same form in both chambers is required before it is presented to the governor.

Here are summaries of the seven.

HB 1081: The original 2018 bill from Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, sought to make the automatic repeal July 1, 2021. Rhoden amended it to repeal the June 30, 2018, repeal and put the laws into effect without a definite repeal date, similar to most laws passed by the Legislature.

House members voted 51-12 to send 1081 to the Senate. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hadn’t publicly scheduled a hearing as of Friday.

HB 1140: The original bill from Rep. Herman Otten, R-Lennox, would prohibit a county or township from vacating a highway that provides access to “waters open to the public for recreational use.”

The House State Affairs Committee amended it to require at least 40 acres of water. The House hadn’t acted as of Friday.

HB 1246: Rep. John Mills, R-Volga, wants to expand the 2017 law that declares any nonmeandered water overlying private property as open for public recreational use, unless the landowner officially closes the water.

Mills wants the law expanded to also cover “any inundated private property located outside of the meander line survey of a meandered lake that an ordinary high water mark has not been established as of January 1, 2017.”

The House State Affairs Committee hadn’t publicly scheduled a hearing as of Friday.

SB 24: Gov. Dennis Daugaard wanted the repeal date for the 2017 laws changed to June 30, 2021. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee changed the date to July 1, 2021. The Senate hadn’t acted as of Friday.

SB 170: Sen. Jeff Partridge, R-Rapid City, wants the 2017 laws to be “liberally construed” regarding public use of nonmeandered waters. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hadn’t publicly scheduled a hearing as of Friday.

SB 199: Sen. Jim White, R-Huron, wants changes made to the 2017 laws. His proposal would:

• Declare “null and void” closures of most waters by private landowners.

• Repealing 27 nonmeandered waters specifically open.

• Establish a process to petition for a specific water to be closed or opened.

• Limit those closed and opened decisions to five years.

White’s legislation also would declare recreational use as “a lawful and beneficial use” to meet a requirement the Supreme Court decision set.

Finally, the repeal date would be removed.

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing Feb. 7 and sent the bill without recommendation. That is unusual. The Senate must vote whether to put the measure on its debate calendar.

The Senate hadn’t take action as of Friday.

SB 211: Sen. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot, wants the Legislature to establish a water-management committee. Its scope would be broader than nonmeandered waters and cover “flooded private land, irrigation, water quantity, water quality, and water recreation, and local government involvement in water issues.” The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hadn’t publicly scheduled a hearing as of Friday.

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