Council: Sioux Falls would benefit from hemp, bee-friendly flowers and more cop training – Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Council: Sioux Falls would benefit from hemp, bee-friendly flowers and more cop training - Sioux Falls Argus Leader


This Sept. 23, 2014 file photo shows a close-up view of a hemp plant cut down at a University of Kentucky farm near Lexington, Ky. Some South Dakota lawmakers are attempting to overcome perceptions about hemps family ties to marijuana to explore the economic potential of the crop with a bill patterned after North Dakotas industrial hemp law. (Photo: AP Photo/Dylan Lovan)

The South Dakota Legislature’s 2020 to-do list from the Sioux Falls City Council will include legalizing industrial hemp, planting pollinator-friendly plants on state grounds and training more police officers.

Each year, councilors establish what are called “legislative priorities” that are sent to state lawmakers as well as the South Dakota Municipal League, the lobby group that works on behalf of South Dakota cities and towns each winter during the legislative session.

Many of the 20 items on this year’s provisional list (meaning it could be changed ahead of the next session) aren’t new ambitions of the city, like the desire to do away with the state’s public notice requirement that legal publication be published in newspapers and support for a local tax on alcohol.

More: Why lawmakers are frustrated with S.D. officials’ lack of hemp research

This year, though, councilor through last minute amendments added three more items to their wish-list:

“The City Council supports legislation to legalize the growth, production, and processing of industrial hemp in South Dakota.The Sioux Falls Council supports legislation to increase the student capacity at the South Dakota’s Law Enforcement Training facility.The city council supports legislation that promotes pollinator friendly plantings on all state-owned properties and right-of-way.”Hemp and the biotech industry

Industrial hemp has been a hot-button topic in South Dakota politics since the federal government legalized the agricultural product last year. But after the Legislature this winter resoundingly approved wiping hemp prohibition from the South Dakota rule books, newly-elected Gov. Kristi Noem nixed the idea through the veto process.

Last week, the Council voted 7-1, with Curt Soehl the lone no vote, to add support of industrial hemp legalization to its legislative priorities.

Councilor Pat Starr said the legalization of hemp has economic benefits to not just South Dakota, but specifically Sioux Falls and its budding biotech industry that can use the product to make protein items, thickening agents and other bi-products of the plant.

“I think this is something that really drove home to me the importance of industrial hemp in our state,” Starr said then, referring to a recent event of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation he attended that provided policymakers with a tour of a Glanbia Nutritionals’ processing plant. “There is no THC that’s left in the product, or it’s at a very microscopic level.” 

The business impact of industrial hemp in South Dakota was brought to Starr’s attention during a recent Sioux Falls Development Foundation event which provided policy makers with a tour of a local grain processing plant and a presentation on the topic.

More training for cops

During budget hearings this summer, Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns told councilors a hurdle he faces in getting his police force to the authorized number of officers it’s eligible to employ is the lack of available training capacity at the state level.

State statute requires all aspiring police officers in South Dakota be trained through the Attorney General-administered Law Enforcement Training Center in Pierre. And with all counties and cities in the state bound to using that one agency and a limited number of classes each year, it’s difficult for a city the size of Sioux Falls to get as many cadets trained as it needs, Burns said.

So the council, at the suggestion of Councilor Soehl, unanimously voted to urge South Dakota lawmakers to give Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg the resources he needs to increase class sizes in hopes the Sioux Falls Police Department can send more recruits to Pierre at once.

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Beekeepers Todd and Jackie Thoelke harvest honey and monitor their hives on a farmstead near Lennox Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. (Photo: Jay Pickthorn – Argus Leader)

Making South Dakota more bee-friendly

In an op-ed last week, Gov. Noem called for enhancing the growth of plants that pollinate in a response to the state’s declining bee population, which has adverse affects on the South Dakota agriculture industry.

More: Is it time to legalize beekeeping in Sioux Falls?

Coincidentally enough, Councilors Janet Brekke and Theresa Stehly are in the process of retooling city ordinance to loosen restriction on beekeeping in Sioux Falls. So the pair Tuesday night successfully amended the list of legislative priorities to encourage the state Legislature to embrace Noem’s call to action regarding pollinator-friendly plantings on state-owned property.

It was a 5-3 vote with Councilors Starr, Marshall Selberg and Soehl voting in support of the Stehly-Brekke amendment.

Read the other 17 legislative priorities tentatively slated to be sent to lawmakers next winter below: 

The Sioux Falls City Council supports a reliable statewide emergency radio system that allows users across the state to communicate within and outside of their agencies. In order to sustain this capability and enhance operations locally, statewide, amongst other states, and with federal agencies, the City Council supports state funding initiatives to upgrade the statewide system to the national standard for public safety communications utilized by both federal and state governments known as Project 25 (P25).

2. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation allowing alternative publication options for local government.

3. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation providing county commissions the option to reduce the number of official newspapers to one.

4. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation that expands workforce housing opportunities in South Dakota.

5. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation to allow a local option, a gross receipts tax on alcoholic beverages, to fund county services.

6. The Sioux Falls City Council supports tax increment financing (TIF), an economic development tool that has led to millions of dollars in increased property value, benefiting both the state as a whole and the local entities sponsoring the districts, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the process.

7. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation that provides additional funding for mental health, drug and alcohol education, intervention, and treatment programs.

8. The Sioux Falls City Council supports cooperative activities between county and municipal governments, the protection of existing joint activities, and elimination of barriers that hinder the creation of such arrangements.

9. The Sioux Falls City Council supports efforts to eliminate double taxation on public projects through the state use and contractor’s excise taxes.

10. The Sioux Falls City Council supports state funding for human service agency transportation to offset the costs to local public and nonprofit transportation systems.

11. The Sioux Falls City Council supports state funding initiatives to mitigate the emerald ash borer infestation.

12. The Sioux Falls City Council supports eliminating presumptive probation for Class 5 and 6 felonies as it relates to controlled substances.

13. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation to examine or implement driver’s license testing in languages other than English. A pilot program or a summer study would help enumerate costs and challenges. As one of only a few states that have not yet implemented multi-language tests, we hamper our workforce development efforts.

14. The Sioux Falls City Council places a high priority on safeguarding and conserving both the quality and quantity of our area’s natural amenities. Government, in partnership with business, should share responsibility in conserving, enhancing, and protecting our water quality, air quality, and land. Given the substantial public and private investments to develop the river greenway, and the potential to develop a first-class amenity in our community, strategies to support a cleanup of the Big Sioux River and its tributaries should be identified and implemented.

15. The Sioux Falls City Council understands the growing diversity of our state’s population and we embrace the opportunities that this diversity provides for a culturally and talent-rich community. We will work with the governor, the legislature, state agencies, and elected officials to develop efforts to engage and include all individuals. Legal immigration and refugee resettlement are proven and vital strategies to combat workforce shortages. We will also oppose initiatives which inappropriately sanction or discriminate against individuals or groups.

16. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation that eliminates any regulatory barriers within state law that prevents or stifles the creation of triage centers, which provide detoxification services to those seeking treatment for substance abuse, and crisis stabilization for mental health issues.

17. The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation that allows a municipality to establish a local policy governing how gifts for parks and boulevards are accepted.

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