Rural issues at SD Legislature: Bill to update pesticide rules advances

Fines increased for trespassing laws and more money pledged for rural broadband in South Dakota

SD pesticides.jpg
The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee discusses Senate Bill 22 on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Shannon Marvel / Forum News Service

PIERRE, S.D. — A bill that provides a comprehensive update of South Dakota’s pesticide statutes has passed through the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on a do-pass recommendation.

Senate Bill 22 revises certain provisions regarding pesticide registration, pesticide application and enforcement of pesticide laws. Licensed applicators could have their license revoked, suspended or modified if they are found to have committed acts that are in violation of state law.

That includes, under the proposed legislation , acts such as transporting, storing, using, disposing of or handling any pesticide, pesticide container, rinsate, or application equipment in a manner as to endanger or cause injury to humans, vegetation, crops, livestock, wildlife or beneficial insects or to pollute groundwater or surface water.

The bill would also tighten pesticide licensing.

Personal farm use of pesticides would no longer be exempt from licensing requirements as the bill would repeal the personal farm use section in state law.


Taya Runyan, with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, said to aid enforcement, a complaint form would be available online.

“Any person may report damage from the use of a pesticide or any alleged pesticide incident to the secretary on a form provided by the secretary, with a written statement, within thirty days after the date the damage was observed or the incident occurred. Any person alleging damage shall permit the secretary to inspect, during reasonable hours, the lands where the alleged damage or incident occurred, or any organism is alleged to have been damaged,” the bill language states.

The bill will now go to the House floor for consideration. The legislative session will wrap up later this month.

Trespassing fines to increase

Lawmakers in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to endorse a bill that would increase the fine for sportsmen who are found guilty of intentionally trespassing on private property.

The 8-0 vote to move the bill to the Senate floor was made Thursday, Feb. 27.

Sen. Bob Ewing, R-Spearfish, said he was happy to see this bill come about.

“It’s long overdue. As an owner of ag land and property that has excellent hunter opportunities, I’ve had to personally deal with these bad actors,” Ewing said.

Rep. Caleb Fink, R-Tripp, is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1257, which will require the court to impose a $500 fine on those found guilty of intentionally trespassing.


“This bill would not affect the penalties of unintentional trespass,” Fink said, adding that both trespassing violations are class two misdemeanors and carry about the same punishment as a speeding ticket.

Fink said the bill aims to curtail a handful of “bad actors” in the state who sour opportunities for other sportsmen that ask permission to enter onto private lands.

The committee also voted to pass a bill that would allow counties to increase the bounty of coyotes.

Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland, said House Bill 1181 would allow counties to offer a bounty of up to $50 per coyote, rather than the $4 cap under current state law.

More money for broadband

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has proposed $5 million in state funds to go toward her broadband expansion initiative , Connect South Dakota, a continued effort that has already connected many rural residents to faster Internet.

“Having internet access is incredibly important for us throughout the state,” Noem said during a press conference Thursday, Feb. 27, in Pierre.

Noem added that because of the $5 million investment last year, the funds qualified the state to receive additional federal funding for a total of $25 million in rural broadband investments within South Dakota.

According to the governor's office, some 88,000 South Dakotans don't have easy access to high-speed internet.

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