2021 Capitol-ism: January 15

Special Events


South Dakota Chamber Of Commerce - Capitol-ism E-Newsletter

January 15, 2021

Session Begins


This edition of “Capitol-ism” marks the end of the first week of 96th Legislative Session.  The legislators took their oaths of office, leadership was officially elected and most committees held their initial meetings.  On day three there were 59 bills in the House and 73 bills in the Senate for a total of 132 bills. 

  • Marijuana
  • Governor's Budget and State of the State Addresses
  • Limiting COVID-19 Liability
  • Announcing Capitol Week Podcast with David Owen 
  • Virtual Business Day at the Legislature



Marijuana – Business Community Braces for a Joint Effort. 

The puns are just too fun.  To state the obvious, there is a “high” level of anxiety among business groups about the voter approved ballot measures legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational uses.  It is time to articulate the issues that are the most significant for the business community as South Dakota faces one of the most dramatic changes in the state’s culture. 


Below are a few of the most urgent concerns.

  • Will the language stating business does not need to accommodate marijuana usage in the workplace really hold up when the substance is legal? 
  • Will marijuana be treated like alcohol, which can be banned from the workplace, or will it be medicinal which needs to be accommodated for businesses subject to disabilities statutes?
  • Will businesses be allowed to refuse to hire people that test positive for THC?
  • Will businesses be allowed to fire workers that test positive for THC?
  • Several manufacturers have been told by insurance companies that claims resulting from actions taken by someone with THC in their system will not be paid by the company.  Will this be legal?
  • Will that law presume that THC in the system is a sign that the person is impaired, even if there is no link between THC level and impairment?

Call to Action!  What issues or questions do you have about the legalization of marijuana?  Please click here to email your comments.  What does business need to do now that voters have put us “one toke over the line”.

In the Beginning: Notes from Governor Noem’s December Budget Address and this Week’s State of the State Address  

Each legislative session begins during the first week in December when the Governor outlines the State’s financial situation during the annual Budget Address.

South Dakota has received a massive amount of money from Uncle Sam, nearly $4 billion in Federal transfers last year plus $1.25 billion in Coronavirus relief funds.  To put these transfers in perspective, the chart shows the different programs that were funded and shows that the transfers equaled 7% of the entire value of South Dakota’s economy.    


During the Budget Address, Governor Noem suggested using these funds for a series of “one time” investments.  Here is a partial list of those investments. 

  • $100 million to extend broadband to 135,000 people without (total = $200 million)
  • $21 million to pay off bonds used for Southeast Technical College and others - This will save the technical colleges $1.5 million a year and eliminates a balloon payment which would be due years from now
  • $12 million for event center in Huron on State Fairgrounds - This is an expanded replacement for a building that burned down last fall
  • $11 million for schools  
  • $8 million for meat processing business development
  • $4 million for dams
  • $3.2 million for Ellsworth Authority 

During the State of the State:

  • Highlighted the commitment to broadband expansion
  • Highlighted a needs-based scholarship programs in a partnership with First Premier Bank which is donating $100 million and will be matched with $50 million from State - This program creates a method to invite additional private and public plus funds  
  • Highlighted several activists and heroes

A legislator was heard to comment that all of this “one time” money made this session just like Christmas which is a good comparison as long everyone understands that this Santa Claus is terminally ill and will not return.


Seeking to limit liability for certain exposures to COVID-19, Representative Anderson and Senator Diedrich bring HB 1046.


HB 1046 is a bill to limit lawsuits against businesses brought by people looking to recover damages from having been exposed to COVID-19.  The bill is designed to stifle the potential to turn the pandemic into a series of class action lawsuits aimed at specific industries, such as the healthcare industry itself.    

The bill states that people cannot bring actions for personal injury, death, or property damage for exposure to COVID-19 unless the person can show that the exposure was done intentionally and with intent to transmit COVID-19.

  • There is a section that deals with various premises including a tenant lessee or occupant where people invite others
  • A section dealing with health care providers
  • A section dealing with the design, manufacturer, label, sell, distribute or donate PPE or other products qualified in response to COVID-19

Here is the URL link to HB 1046 in the Legislative Research Council’s website: https:/sdlegislature.gov/Session/Bill/21916



South Dakota Chamber Announces Capitol Week with David Owen


Beginning Monday, January 18, State Chamber President David Owen will present a weekly podcast to update members on legislative issues of importance to the business community.  A link will be sent to the South Dakota Chamber’s YouTube channel.



2021 Virtual Business Day at the Legislature

Presenting via an online (webcasting) platform, our first session is set for 1:30 to 2:30 PM (CT) when David Owen will present a Legislative update and we will conduct our annual Business Caucus where our members will have the opportunity to vote their opinions on key issues that are being debated in the legislature and those of importance to the business community.

From 2:45 to approximately 4:15 PM (CT) there will be a series of speakers addressing legislative and business-related issues from local, state and national perspectives.  We have invited Governor Kristi Noem, GOED Commissioner Steve Westra, and US Chamber President Suzanne Clark to speak.  Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds and Congressman Dusty Johnson have also been asked to contribute to this session.

Registered participants will receive an internet link to join the event.  Voting during Business Caucus will be online through the same system.

Registration for the afternoon is $50.  The first 200 guests who register by February 1st will receive a thank you gift to enjoy during the event.  

Thank you to our current list of Business Day sponsors:

  • First PREMIER Bank
  • NorthWestern Energy
  • Midco
  • Black Hills Energy
  • MDU Resources Group
  • Xcel Energy
  • Sioux Valley Energy
  • Avera Health
  • Bender Commercial Real Estate Services
  • Lawrence & Schiller
  • POET

Thank you for supporting the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry!

This message has been sent to: FirstName  LastName

222 East Capitol | Suite 15 | PO Box 190 | Pierre, SD 57501
Contact | 605-224-6161
South Dakota Website Design and Development