South Dakotans face new laws come July 1, including $50 fee on electric vehicles

Teen drivers will also see steeper requirements for instructional and intermediate driving permits, in a law held over from the 2020 legislative session.

The South Dakota Legislature in 2021 is facing an unusual challenge in 2021 thanks, in part, to an influx of federal coronavirus relief dollars from Congress: how to spend $250 million in one-time money? On Thursday, Jan. 29, Sen. Reynold Nesiba (kneeling), a Sioux Falls Democrat, speaks with President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck, a Watertown Republican, on the floor of the Senate. Chris Vondracek / Forum News Service
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PIERRE, S.D. — New South Dakota laws ranging from a new fee on elective vehicles to longer permits for feedlots passed the legislature take effect this week as do added restrictions to teen driving rules, which were passed a year ago but saw delayed implementation.

The legislature in Pierre took noteworthy actions on record infrastructure projects in 2021, as well as engaging in fights over marijuana and transgender participation in youth sports . But the body passed a slew of laws that go into effect this Thursday, July 1, including a number of items with wide, almost universal bipartisan support.

Tribal flags in rotunda

House Bill 1189 — which will establish a flag display in the Statehouse's rotunda honoring the state's 9 tribal nations — drew unanimous support in the state Senate and only had six detractors in the House (Reps. Drew Dennert , Fred Deutsch , Marty Overweg , Kaleb Weis , Tom Pischke , and House Speaker Spencer Gosch ).

The bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Shawn Bordeaux , a Democrat from Mission on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, called his bill "an effort to plagiarize" efforts in North Dakota, where legislators tribal flag display was put in in 2019. He also noted the measure — which was signed by Gov. Kristi Noem — as an "olive branch" from the second floor (where the governor's offices reside).


Legislators, also almost universally, approved a measure to allow cigar shippers to send stogies to customers (over the age of 21) by mail. The bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Tim Reed , R-Brookings, told lawmakers he brought the bill would also apply to South Dakota-based cigar shops looking to reach in-state customers. Previously, South Dakota was one of two states that prohibited cigar shipments by mail.


Electric vehicles pay fee

With the rising popularity of electric vehicles, even in a state legislature that passed a resolution affirming fossil fuels as "essential" to the country's well-being , the state will require persons owning an electric vehicle to pay a $50 fee. Bill sponsor, Rep. Mark Willadsen , R-Sioux Falls, said gas taxes fund road improvements, and electric vehicles — which require drivers to visit the pump less frequently — helps bring fairness to infrastructure costs for owners of petroleum-based vehicles. Though the bill, which drew opposition, including from both Republicans and Democrats, exempts battery-powered motorcycles.

CAFOS can renew water pollution permit

A new law brought by the erstwhile Department of Environment and Natural Resources (which joined with the Agriculture Department under Gov. Noem's directive ) will extend the life of a discharge permit required for many concentrated animal feeding operations in the state, meaning they'll only once-every-decade need to apply and come before a public board for the hearing, rather than once-every-five-years.

Teen driving rules

In rules left over from a bill passed in the 2020 sessions, teen drivers will face required hours behind the wheel (including during inclement weather) and passenger restrictions for restricted permit holders ("before you could haul your buddies to school," said Jane Schrank, the state's driver licensing program director. Schrank added the rules were brought by groups concerned about high traffic deaths among children. According to a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , South Dakota (at 8.7) traffic-related deaths per 100,000 persons age 0-20 compared with a national average of only 3.7.

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