Tag Archives: Don Haggar

SD State Legislators list updated with leadership positions

I’ve updated the SD State Legislators list (available in the menu above) with the results from the leadership elections recently held.

I believe these results have already been reported by other political blogs in the state. But, for anyone that wants to know who was elected to legislative leadership positions, here are the results of the caucus meetings:

2017-2018 Senate Majority Leadership

If I understand the President Pro Tempore correctly, this is not actually elected until the full Senate is in session and the Democrats get their votes. It is unlikely to change though.

Sen Brock Greenfield speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.
Sen Brock Greenfield speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.

President Pro Tempore: Sen Brock Greenfield  (R, Dist 2)

Majority Leader: Sen Blake Curd (R, Dist 12)

Assistant Majority Leader: Sen Ryan Maher (R, Dist 28)

Majority Whip: Sen Kris Langer (R, Dist 25)

Majority Whip: Sen Al Novstrup (R, Dist 3)

Majority Whip: Sen Bob Ewing (R, Dist 31)

2017-2018 Senate Minority Leadership

Sen Billie Sutton speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/19/16.
Sen Billie Sutton speaking on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/19/16.

Minority Leader: Sen Billie Sutton (D, Dist 21)

Assistant Minority Leader: Sen Troy Heinert (D, Dist 26)

Minority Whip: Sen Jason Frerichs (D, Dist 1)

2017-2018 House Majority Leadership

If I understand the two Speaker positions correctly, these are not actually elected until the full House is in session and the Democrats get their votes. It is unlikely to change though.

Rep Mark Mickelson at the front the SD House. Photo by Ken Santema 2/17/16.
Rep Mark Mickelson at the front the SD House. Photo by Ken Santema 2/17/16.

Speaker of the House: Rep Mark Mickelson (R, Dist 13)

Speaker Pro Tempore: Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10)

Majority Leader: Rep Lee Qualm (R, Dist 21)

Assistant Majority Leader: Rep Kent Peterson (R, Dist 19)

Majority Whip: Rep Arch Beal (R, Dist 12)

Majority Whip: Rep Larry Rhoden (R, Dist 29)

Majority Whip: Rep Leslie Heinemann (R, Dist 8)

Majority Whip: Rep Lynne DiSanto (R, Dist 35)

Majority Whip: Rep Isaac Latterell (R, Dist 6)

2017-2018 House Minority Leadership

Rep Spencer Hawley speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.
Rep Spencer Hawley speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.

Minority Leader: Rep Spencer Hawley (D, Dist 7)

Assistant Minority Leader: Rep Julie Bartling (D, Dist 21)

Minority Whip: Rep Karen Soli (D, Dist 15)

Minority Whip: Rep Susan Wismer (D, Dist 1)

SD Dist 10 State House Gen Election: Haugaard, D Haggar, Vanderlinde, and Kurtz

SD Legislative District 10
SD Legislative District 10

South Dakota legislative District 10 has  a general election for State Representative. District 10 includes parts of northeast Sioux Falls and then protrudes north and north-east of Sioux Falls. It includes Brandon, the Meadow View Addition, and Renner Corner.

Both of the incumbents Republicans, Rep Steven Haugaard and Rep Don Haggar, are seeking reelection. Opposing them are Democrats Paul Vanderlinde and Dean Kurtz. This post will be much shorter than normal for a four-person race. The two Democrats are not showing up on the radar at all for me to find anything to write about…

Here is a brief look at all four candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate. For candidates with a legislative history I look at a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored. For candidates with no legislative history I look at the issues I find for them online.

*** It should be noted this is NOT a scorecard. This post only looks at some of the legislative priorities of these candidates. These legislative priorities may or may not have any bearing on how the candidates actually vote on legislation.

Steven Haugaard

Rep Steven Haugaard speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.
Rep Steven Haugaard speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

Rep Steven Haugaard (R, Dist 10) – Incumbent
Website – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates –SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015
SDPB Video: 2014
SDPB Audio: 2016

Steven Haugaard is seeking reelection after serving his first term as State Representative. Haugaard does have a values page on his website. But as with all sitting legislators I will look at some bills prime sponsored by Haugaard to get an idea of his legislative priorities.

Up first for Haugaard is this bill from 2016:

HB 1165 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Repeal the requirement for a marriage license and to provide for a marriage certificate.

Haugaard also tried this bill in 2015 as HB 1211 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Both times the bill was killed in committee. Basically this bill would have reduced the governments involvement in marriage. This is an approach that has become increasingly attractive to social conservatives as gay marriage is being enacted around the country. This bill definitely shows Haugaard’s commitment to traditional marriage.

Another bill Haugaard brought forth in 2016 was:

HB 1166 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain provisions regarding the penalty for identity theft while using an unauthorized credit card.

This bill from Haugaard did not pass, but I expect it to come back in 2017 and potentially pass then. Haugaard brought this bill forth because of a kid who used his parents credit card for a $70 purchase. Because of identity theft laws this ended up being a mandatory felony charge. HB 1166 would have made it a Class 1 misdemeanor for the unauthorized use of $1,000 or less on a credit card. Some of the opposition to this bill came about because it didn’t take cumulative charges into account. If Haugaard updates the bill it might have a chance of passage in 2017.

And up last to look at from Haugaard is a bill in 2016 which Governor Daugaard signed into law:

HB 1167 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain provisions regarding the use of a suspended imposition of sentence for a misdemeanor and a felony.

This bill as signed into law clarifies that each individual in South Dakota can have a suspended imposition of sentence twice in their lifetime. One can be for a misdemeanor and one can be for a felony. There was some question as to whether that was true before. Now the misdemeanor imposition of sentence and the felony imposition of sentence are put in codified law separately; which removed that ambiguity. Anyone who has used an imposition of sentence for a misdemeanor will gladly welcome this change in case somehow they end up with a felony charge some day.

Don Haggar

Rep Don Haggar speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.
Rep Don Haggar speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10) – Incumbent
Website – Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013
SDPB Video: 2014 2012

Don Haggar is seeking reelection in his third term as State Representative. Since Haggar has a legislative history I will look at a few bills he has prime sponsored.

First up for Haggar is this bill from 2016:

HB 1156 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Require municipalities to reimburse the counties for certain judicial and law enforcement expenditures.

This bill was killed in committee. I only bring it up because the same bill was also brought in the Senate by his daughter Sen Jenna Haggar as SB 84 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Here is what I said about the bill in my post about the District 10 Senate General Election:

This bill is interesting because it highlights the problem of the state continuing to mandate costs on the counties. For a number of years the legislature has shifted costs to the counties without shifting the revenue the state was using to pay for those costs. That has left the counties scrambling for more money to pay for these new services being dictated in law. This bill from Haggar would have forced force municipalities to pay more of their share of county judicial and law enforcement costs. The bill died. But it did bring attention to the fact that the legislature has to do something about the ongoing cost shift to the counties.

Up next from Haggar is another 2016 bill:

HB 1234 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Require the approval of the Legislature before the state adopts certain changes to the Medicaid program.

Haggar brought this bill when it looked like Governor Daugaard might expand Medicaid in South Dakota; and this HB 1234 would have prevented that. Basically this bill would have required and increase of over 5% of expenditures for Medicaid in any given year to get specific action from the legislature. Appropriations would NOT have been able to slip Medicaid expansion into the general appropriations bill if this had been signed into law. The move to slip that into the general appropriations bill did not happen, and this bill was defeated. But I think Haggar brought up an issue many fiscal conservatives would like to see implemented on a bigger scale. Namely any large increase for a budgetary item would have to be brought forth as a separate issue, and not included in the general appropriations bill.

Finally there is one more bill to look at from 2016:

HB 1088 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise and consolidate certain civil forfeiture provisions.

Haggar was able to get this bill signed into law. Unfortunately the best portions of the bill were killed before it was signed into law. One big thing the bill did in its original form was to ensure there is a conviction for drug related crimes before forfeiture can occur. For sex traffic crimes there has to be a conviction. With that change due process would have been restored in drug related charges. The AG’s Office, States Attorney Association, and South Dakota Sheriffs Association teamed up to get that change out of HB 1088. After being amended the bill only consolidates some civil asset forfeiture statutes. Essentially no changes of consequence were made. Haggar did try to make a summer study out of civil asset forfeiture, but that attempt failed. Hopefully if Haggar gets reelected he will try to bring a form of this bill forth again in 2017.

Paul Vanderlinde

Paul Vanderlinde (D)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

There really isn’t anything to review about this candidate at this time…

Dean Kurtz

Dean Kurtz (D)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

There really isn’t anything to review about this candidate at this time…

SD Attorney General hands out forfeiture money to law enforcement agencies around the state

SD Attorney General Marty Jackley speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 4/1/16.
SD Attorney General Marty Jackley speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 4/1/16.

Today the South Dakota Attorney Generals Office sent out a press release listing this years allocation of Drug Control Funds awarded to various law enforcement agencies around the state. In the release here is what Jackley has to say:

“The Drug Control Fund helps law enforcement to better protect communities by funding local programs with monies seized from drug arrests. We are funding a number of requests including several for body worn cameras to assist agencies throughout the state to improve their levels of public trust and improve public safety,” said Jackley.

The Drug Control Fund is authorized by SD Codified Law 34-20B-64. Of particular interest is the fact that there does not have to be a conviction for forfeiture to occur in South Dakota. Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10) tried to correct the social injustice of civil forfeitures occurring without a conviction with HB 1088 (SoDakLiberty Posts) earlier this year. Unfortunately that bill died. Rep Haggar’s attempt to make a summer study of forfeiture laws in South Dakota also failed.

Currently there is little, if any, oversight of civil asset forfeiture in South Dakota. That seems odd a conservative state such as South Dakota would allow assets to be taken without due process. Yet that is what can occur in South Dakota. The Attorney General then gets to use the assets seized from these forfeitures to buy new equipment to fight the war on drugs for various law enforcement agencies around the state. There again is no oversight or transparency in this process. The closes to transparency appears to be from the yearly press release explaining where the money went.

This time the Attorney Generals Office distributed $213,654.73 to law enforcement agencies around the state. Here is the actual ist of what when were:

Murdo PD     $1,395.00   In-Car Camera System
Webster PD     $2,721.00   Body Worn Camera Systems
DCI       $2,334.00  Fencing Project/Vehicle Storage
Groton PD     $3,373.27  Tasers
Flandreau PD    $4,015.00   Surveillance Equipment
Jackson County SO   $4,147.00  Tasers and Firearm Accessories
Jerauld County SO   $4,500.00  K9 Equipment
Union County SO    $5,537.00  Body Worn Camera Systems
SDSU PD     $6,164.70  Body Worn Camera Systems
Vermillion PD/Clay County SO $6,338.91  Video Recording System
Hot Springs PD    $6,360.00  Body Worn Camera Systems
Lake Norden PD    $5,500.00  In-Car Camera and Radar System
SD Highway Patrol   $13,000.00  K9 Vehicle Equipment
Walworth County SO   $17,235.00  Rifles
James Valley Drug Task Force  $22,394.15  Objective Gunner Protection Kit
Watertown PD    $23,639.00  Body Worn Camera Systems
Spearfish PD    $25,000.00  Towards purchase of vehicle
Yankton PD     $25.000.00  Towards purchase of vehicle
Aberdeen PD    $35,000.00  Towards purchase of Canine Unit

These law enforcement agencies are likely happy to receive these items. But I wonder if the cost of these gifts from the Attorney Generals Office are worth it if forfeitures truly are occurring without a conviction. Hopefully Rep Haggar will bring forth forfeiture legislation again in 2017 to bring state law in line with due process and the US Constitution.

Civil asset forfeiture was not chosen as a summer study topic

Earlier today I blogged about the three summer study topics that were approved by the SD Legislature Executive Board during the 2016 interim session and one summer study topic that was assigned to the LRC as an Issue Memo. Now it is time to look at one of the summer study topic that wasn’t chosen to be looked at during the interim session: civil asset forfeiture. This is a topic I thought would be chosen, especially since it was a topic during the 2016 legislative session (even if it didn’t get any real press coverage). At the end of this post I will include a brief look at two bills from the 2016 legislative session dealing with civil asset forfeiture.

Rep Don Haggar speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.
Rep Don Haggar speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

During the executive board meeting Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10) mentioned the civil forfeiture in South Dakota summer study should be selected as one of the final topics for the 2016 interim session. He noted there were several committee hearings on the topic during this previous session (more on that below) and several million dollars are seized annually. Haggar believes there are constitutional issues, because sometimes assets are seized before conviction. Plus he believes there are questions about the controls that are in place (or not in place) as to how these assets are handled.

Here is the actual proposal for the summer study:

Title of Requested Study: Civil forfeiture in South Dakota. A study of the process, the volume of assets seized, how the seized assets are managed and disposed of, the reporting process, possible abuses, and how South Dakota’s process compares to other states.

Scope of Requested Study:

  • Breadkown seized assets by crime, by type of asset, and by volume.
  • Cost to sieze assets.
  • How often do seizure efforts fail?
  • What process is used to dispose of assets?
  • How are funds held? Checks and balances?
  • What reporting is done?
  • Due process and the burden of proof in forfeitures.

Requested by: Individual Legislators and Committee Vote: Sen Corey Brown (R, Dist 23), Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10).

During the Executive Board meeting Rep Jim Bolin (R, Dist 16) didn’t see a need for this as a summer study because he doesn’t hear constituents speaking out about civil asset forfeiture. Rep Timothy Johns (R, Dist 31) however disagreed with Rep Bolin and believes civil asset forfeiture is a “very timely topic”.

Unfortunately there was not a motion made to actually move this forward as a summer study topic after the other three had actually been chosen. Personally I think this should have been a chosen topic and hope Rep Haggar continues to work on the topic in the 2017 legislative session (provided he makes it through the general election).

Summary of bill from the 2016 session that dealt with civil asset forfeiture

To end this post I will look briefly at two bills taken up during the 2016 legislative session that dealt with civil asset forfeiture.

HB 1088 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise and consolidate certain civil forfeiture provisions.

Status: Signed by Governor
SoDakLiberty Stance: Not Opposed (supported original version)
Prime Sponsors: Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10) and Sen Corey Brown (R, Dist 23) are the prime sponsors.

This bill originally combined and reconciled two different forfeiture areas of law: drug related and sex traffic related. The biggest change in the original version of the bill would have been to ensure there is a conviction for drug related crimes before forfeiture can occur; that is already the case with sex traffic crimes. That change would have ensured there is due process in place before property is seized.

The AG’s Office, States Attorney Association, and South Dakota Sheriffs Association testified against the conviction provision in HB 1088. HB 1088 then went through a series of amendments that took all of the good portions away. In the end all the bill does now is consolidate the process for civil forfeitures. When this bill becomes law on July 1 nothing will have changed.

Too bad, Rep Haggar brought forth a good bill that would have helped ensure the civil rights of South Dakota residents are protected.

SB 25 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain provisions concerning forfeiture of property interests of persons convicted of certain crimes.

Status: Signed by Governor
SoDakLiberty Stance: Opposed
Prime Sponsors: The Committee on Judiciary is the prime sponsor at the request of the Office of the Attorney General.

While Haggar was trying to reign in civil asset forfeiture in SD, the Attorney General Marty Jackley was trying to expand forfeiture.

Here is what I had to say about the bill when it was prefiled, and feel was relevant up to it being passed:

This bill would allow the AG’s office to take property from more human trafficking cases. Currently state law allows the state to take the property set forth in § 22-24A-15 for breaking certain state laws. This bill would appear to allow the state to take that same property from people convicted under certain federal laws. That would mean the state has greater power to seize the property of anyone convicted of certain crimes, whether convicted at the state or federal level.

Here is what Jackley had to say in the press release:

“State, local and federal law enforcement officers continue to remove sexual predators from our communities during our joint law enforcement operations and investigations.  Predators convicted of human trafficking and related sex crimes whether prosecuted by state or federal authorities should not keep either their profits or assets used to harm young women and children.  Their profits and assets used to commit these sex crimes should go to help victims and support further law enforcement operations saving taxpayer monies,” said Jackley.

I can understand where Jackley is coming from. But, I fear any time forfeiture laws are expanded that the potential to abuse those laws are increased. According to a report from the Institute for JusticeSouth Dakota already has poor forfeiture protections in place, getting a D- on the scorecard. Part of the reason for that bad score is how easy it is for law enforcement to take property in South Dakota. But another part, and a part I am truly worried about, is explained by this paragraph in the report:

Compounding those problems, South Dakota law does not require law enforcement agencies to track or report their forfeitures. By filing a South Dakota Open Records Law request, the Institute for Justice was able to obtain records of forfeiture proceeds from the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General, which prosecuted almost $4.1 million in forfeitures between 2010 and 2013, or over $1 million per fiscal year. These figures represent all drug-related civil forfeitures conducted in South Dakota during this time.

What is happening with all of this forfeited property and money? Do we really want to expand a program without actually knowing what is going on currently?

Additionally the IJ report gives SD good marks in one area:

Law enforcement agencies in South Dakota make less use of the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program than do agencies in any other state, perhaps because state law makes it relatively easy for agencies to benefit handsomely from civil forfeiture. Ranking first in the nation on equitable sharing, South Dakota agencies received over $1 million in DOJ equitable sharing proceeds between the 2000 and 2013 calendar years.

Is the ability to use more of this equitable sharing money part of the reason the Office of the Attorney General wants to pass this law?

Tribal Economic Development Task Force submits bill for GOED position

"Indian Camp" artwork in the SD State Capital building. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.
“Indian Camp” artwork in the SD State Capital building. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

Bills are still getting pre-filed for the 2016 South Dakota legislative session. The Tribal Economic Development Task Force has its first bill ready for viewing on the LRC website:

HB 1012 – (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Provide for an additional position in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to coordinate economic development with the tribes and to make an appropriation therefor.

HB 1012 is prime-sponsored by Rep Don Haggar (R, Dist 10) in the House and Sen Jim Bradford (D, Dist 27) in the Senate on behalf of the Tribal Economic Development Task Force.

This bill would appropriate $50,000 and authorize one Full Time Employee to create the new tribal coordinator in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Once a year this person would also report to the State-Tribal 12 Relations Committee.

The minutes from the November 20 Tribal Economic Development Task Force meeting explain why the task force feels the legislation is important:

Representative Haggar said that there is a piece of legislation that will be drafted that he would like to come from this task force. That legislation would create a full-time position with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) that would focus strictly on working with the tribes regarding economic development. This position would be responsible for helping the tribes develop an economic development office, communicating what opportunities are available for the tribes, and serve as a liaison between GOED and the tribes. Representative Verchio added that this person could also direct business inquiries to the proper contact on the reservations.

Representative May and Secretary Emery suggested that this position report to the State-Tribal Relations Committee at least on an annual basis. Representative May said that she does not want a position created that is not accountable to anyone.

This is a bill I have mixed feelings about. Personally I don’t believe GOED should exist. GOED at times seems little more than a way for the Governors office to intervene into the free market; while at the same time acting as an unaccountable slush fund. But, since GOED does exist it would seem appropriate for there to be a person dedicated towards tribal economic development. This person will likely have a hard time getting anything done. Reading the full minutes from the November 20 Tribal Economic Development Task Force meeting will show a large variety of issues the tribes have in regards to economic development.

No hemp legislation

This isn’t quite the bill I was hoping to see out of the Tribal Economic Development Task Force. As I noted before the last task force meeting, there has been talk of hemp legislation. That would offer true economic development opportunity for the tribes. But that didn’t happen. It was discussed during the November 20th task force meeting however. This from the Nov 20 minutes:

Representative Verchio had discussed at previous meetings draft legislation that would legalize growing hemp in South Dakota. There are manufacturers in Colorado that import all their hemp from Canada. Representative Verchio said that not everyone wants to grow hemp but those who would like to produce hemp should be allowed to do so.

Representative Haggar said that there are complications and challenges with this proposal on the federal level.

Representative May said that there are many farmers in South Dakota who would like to grow hemp and this could be an important crop to many people on the reservations. By passing this draft legislation, the state would have an argument to use with the federal government on this issue.

Hopefully the idea of growing hemp in SD, even if it is on tribal land, does not die. Hemp could provide a new cash crop and series of value-added products to the economy.

Tribal Economic Development Task Force update, AG’s office talked about hemp

On Friday, November 20, the Tribal Economic Development Task Force for South Dakota will meet in Pierre. The last meeting was held on October 30th. Prior to that meeting I did a post about the Task Force, and particularly about possible hemp legislation. That came up as a topic again during the October 30th meeting.

The agenda for the November meeting can be found here (there really isn’t much to it). The press release for this meeting doesn’t really add much insight into what will be discussed at this meeting:

The Task Force is chaired by Representative Don Haggar (Sioux Falls) and will focus primarily on committee discussion. The committee will hear public testimony in the late morning.

October 30 meeting

Looking at the minutes from the October meeting there are a couple of items I would say are interesting.

Section 184 Loans

Juel Burnette of First Tribal Lending gave a presentation during the meeting to discuss homeownership lending issues in tribal communities. There are three tribes 1st Tribal Lending has worked with in to provide housing on tribal trust lands using a HUD Section 184 Home Loan.

Here is what the HUD website has to say about Section 184 loans:

The Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program is a home mortgage specifically designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Villages, Tribes, or Tribally Designated Housing Entities. Section 184 loans can be used, both on and off native lands, for new construction, rehabilitation, purchase of an existing home, or refinance.

Burnette laid out some of the challenges encountered such as “appraiser issues due to lack of comparable sales, lack of capital due to few major employers on the reservations, lease terms, and credit issues.” As I’ve traveled the state I’ve heard many tribal members that choose to remain on tribal lands mention a lack of employment. The tribes are going to have to figure something out to be sure.

Hemp

The South Dakota Attorney General’s office was present at the meeting. To represent the AG’s office were Charlie McGuigan, Chief Deputy Attorney General, and Kirsten Jasper, Appellate Division. Jasper is involved with tribal jurisdictional issues.The AG’s Office was also in the State-Tribal relations meeting that happened just two days before this one. It was during that meeting that the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s (FSST) recreational pot lounge was a topic. It was also at that meeting that the AG’s office would not guarantee law enforcement would leave customers of the lounge alone.

Rep Mike Verchio on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/24/15
Rep Mike Verchio on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/24/15

McGuigan noted that some months ago Rep Mike Verchio (R, Dist 30) had asked what the AG’s office policy would be if a hemp bill came forward in the legislature.  AG Marty Jackley is apparently open to the concept and would be willing to look at such legislation. But (isn’t there always a but), according to McGuigian it would be one of Jackley’s criteria that:

Any hemp bill would also require that the hemp have a very low to negligible to zero THC level.

McGuigan noted that Verchio’s hemp bill (which this committee still has not made available in the online docs!) includes a provision for federal max THC (he believes it is 3/10 of 1%). He didn’t say if Jackley found that criteria acceptable.

McGuigan then tried many talking points that seemed to be trying to convince the committee that legalizing hemp would be bad. He tried to talk about problems ND has had. McGuigan then noted many federal regulations would have to be met (as opposed to the many other areas of life where the feds over-regulate?).  Of course McGuigan mentioned the DEA going after the Menominee Indian Tribe for hemp. He also mentioned the problems a producer has been having down in Pine Ridge, where an ordinance makes hemp legal.

Rep Verchio did note that if it looks like the fed government would come down on hemp producers he would not even bring a bill forward. He does not want to see the federal government come in and destroy crops; which is what happened to the producer down in Pine Ridge. Verchio noted his interest with hemp has to do with economic development, especially for the tribes. It is not just the growing of hemp, but all the manufacturing and marketing industries that can grow around the production of hemp. He doesn’t see hemp production as a “silver bullet” fix, but it would be one of many possible economic development ideas to present to the tribes.

During committee discussion of hemp Rep Elizabeth May (R, Dist 27) did have to bud in to remind everyone that hemp plants and marijuana plants are not the same thing. I understand why she got involved with that part of the discussion. It appeared there was some misconception that since marijuana is generally harvested sooner in its plant life and hemp later in its plant life that both are basically the same. That simply isn’t true.

I truly hope Verchio isn’t scared away from bringing forth a hemp bill in the 2016 session.  May came in to calm some of those fears. But with so much fear of the federal government in the committee I’m not sure any fears were truly calmed.