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Legislature fails to override Noem vetoes on spending authority, prenatal care

A pitched fight that lasted from the 2022 session's earliest days between Rep. Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls, and Gov. Kristi Noem over federal COVID-19 relief funding expenditures came to an end on Veto Day, with the House unable to hit a two-thirds' majority to overturn Noem's veto of the Karr-backed plan.

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The South Dakota House of Representatives during the 2022 legislative session.
Christopher Vondracek / Forum News Service
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PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota House of Representatives failed to overturn two of Gov. Kristi Noem's vetoes Monday, March 28, and the Senate also deadlocked in their task to override the governor's rejection of a bill during the 2022 session's final day.

Noem had vetoed three bills in the time since the two chambers last met more than two weeks earlier. She vetoed a measure that would have expunged small drug crimes from citizens' records and allowed pregnant minors to access prenatal care without a parent's consent.

But the closest vote to overriding the Republican governor's will came on a months-long spat between Noem and GOP leaders in the House appropriations committee over the authority to spend federal stimulus dollars.

On Monday, the House voted 40 to 30, shy of the necessary mark to override Noem on House Bill 1281.

While Noem had suggested HB 1281 created a full-time Legislature, Rep. Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls, made a case in an impassioned floor speech that his bill was in step with the philosophy of a citizen legislature many in the body agreed to when they first ran for office.

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"The Legislature and the appropriations committee does have a job to do," Karr said. "We do have a role here in state government."

Under the terms of HB 1281 , which had previously passed both chambers as part of a budget compromise, the Joint Committee on Appropriations would've had authority to review and even deny the governor's ability to spend federal dollars on new programs.

In the session's early days, a fierce dispute arose over whether Noem could authorize the state treasury to cut checks — paid for by the federal government — to aid child care providers in the form of grants.

Standing to support his colleague, House Minority Leader Jamie Smith, D-Sioux Falls, called on the body to support overriding Noem's veto, calling it part of a larger compromise on the budget.

"I stand by that promise that we made," Smith said.

But the vote failed to reach a two-thirds majority.

A majority in the House voted to sustain Noem's veto of House Bill 1223 that would have allowed greater prenatal care access to young mothers.

Noem said the measure would have eroded parental rights by allowing a doctor and a pregnant minor to effectively veto the wishes of an adult parent. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Erin Healy, D-Sioux Falls, however, said the bill would help teenagers access basic care, such as an epidural, in instances when the minor's parents were abusive or unreachable.

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"This bill was meant to protect those who choose life to have healthy pregnancies and ensure that babies born from minor mothers ... can be born healthy," Healy said.

Rep. Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls, said she agreed with the governor's analysis, saying the bill's language wasn't narrowly tailored. Only 23 House members voted to override the veto.

In the Senate, members deadlocked 17-17 on overriding Noem's veto of a bill that would have wiped certain crimes, including marijuana possession, off of criminal background check records after five years.

With Veto Day, the 2022 legislative session comes to a close.

Christopher Vondracek is the South Dakota correspondent for Forum News Service. Contact Vondracek at cvondracek@forumcomm.com , or follow him on Twitter: @ChrisVondracek .

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Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Christopher Vondracek covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at cvondracek@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVondracek.
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