South Dakota’s E-Board chooses summer study topics

March 27, 2024

Joshua Haiar (SD Searchlight)

PIERRE, S.D.–Lawmakers will study topics ranging from property taxes to the regulation of minors’ access to inappropriate web content this summer.

The legislature’s Executive Board defined the summer studies state lawmakers will take on in Pierre on Tuesday, the last day of the 2024 legislative session. The last day is typically used to consider vetoes, but Gov. Noem did not veto any legislation this year.

The Executive Board is the committee responsible for overseeing the administrative functions of the legislature, which include managing the interim activities and study committees between sessions.

A summer study involves a research project or series of meetings, conducted by a group of lawmakers who gather for discussions between legislative sessions. The studies are meant to delve deeply into specific issues, gather information, and develop recommendations or draft legislation to be considered.

One of this year’s studies will explore the state’s potential role in regulating artificial intelligence, and in managing access to inappropriate online content by minors. Both topics saw failed attempts at regulation during the 2024 session, with some opponents calling for summer studies before formal legislative action. The board approved the dual-purpose study on the topics on a 13-2 vote.

“When it comes to regulation of technologies like this, it’s important that we not shoot and miss; that we not be hasty,” Rep. Will Mortenson, R-Fort Pierre, said Tuesday.

Another summer study will focus on property tax assessments and valuations, following some lawmakers’ concerns about the significant increase in property assessments because of COVID-19, an influx of new residents, and changing interest rates. The study will explore ways to lessen the burden of property taxes.

The property tax study passed on a 10-5 vote.

The expansion of Ellsworth Air Force Base will also be analyzed. The study will examine the need for additional infrastructure, growth in the area school populations and other ways the state might manage the impact of the expansion.

“With the B-21 bomber program, the Ellsworth Air Force Base is estimated to increase by more than 4,000 new military personnel, families, and civilians over the next twenty years, bringing the total base population to nearly 12,000 people,” wrote Sen. Helene Duhamel, R-Rapid City, in her request that the board approve studying the topic.

Additionally, the legislative budget committee will meet during the summer to oversee the design and planning for a new men’s prison in Lincoln County, south of Sioux Falls. Some lawmakers called for a comprehensive review to prevent future expenditure overruns after concerns about overspending were aired during the legislative session.

The Executive Board will next meet on April 23.