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Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signs Senate Bill 47, allowing for permitless concealed carry, in the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre on Thursday, Jan. 31. Sarah Mearhoff / Forum News Service

Abortion, citizenship tests, violence against indigenous people: A look at the last round of bills introduced in South Dakota for 2019

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota's 2019 legislative session is in full swing. Four weeks in, several bills have been signed into law, and the deadline to file new bills has passed. With an influx of bills filed this week, legislators say they expect committee meetings to pick up speed in the coming weeks.

Here's a look at notable bills filed this week, and what's to come:


Three new bills regarding abortion were filed this week. House Bill 1177 would require physicians to perform an ultrasound on a patient prior to performing an abortion and give a verbal explanation of the fetus’s development. The bill says that the patient could “avert” her eyes if she wishes.

House Bill 1190 would require patients to listen to the fetus’s heartbeat prior to receiving an abortion, and for the physician to offer a verbal explanation of the sound of the heartbeat. If the patient were to decline a verbal explanation, that would be reported to the state Department of Health.

HB 1177 and HB 1190 together are similar to Senate Bill 6, which would have required both the sonogram and listening to the heartbeat. SB 6 failed to pass through the Senate Health and Human Services committee after legislators expressed concern that the bill could lead to a court challenge and that the procedures would be coercive to patients.

House Bill 1193, also filed this week, would make it a Class 3 felony to cause someone to have an abortion against her will.


Most notably this week in firearms legislation, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed the first bill of the session into law. Senate Bill 47 allows for permitless concealed carry in South Dakota, effective July 1.

The House Local Government committee on Thursday passed by an 8-4 vote House Bill 1056, which would prohibit local governments from imposing additional taxes or licensure requirements on guns.

Newly filed this week, House Bill 1173 would prevent employers from punishing employees for keeping a gun in their car on employer property or for “exercising the constitutional right to keep and bear long as the firearm is not exhibited on the employer's property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes.”


The Senate on Thursday passed by a 26-7 vote House Bill 1040, which lowers the required ACT score for home-schooled students to receive the Opportunity Scholarship from a 28 to a 24, in line with public school students’ score requirement.

The House Education committee appeared torn in two hearings this week on House Bill 1066, which would require high school students to pass a United States citizenship test before graduation. Noem was met with a standing ovation when she proposed the idea during her State of the State address in January, but several groups opposed the concept at a Monday committee hearing. The committee is scheduled to take up the bill again on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Violence against indigenous people

Three bills — House Bills 1237 and 1238 and Senate Bill 164 — have been introduced to help further investigate the issue of murdered and missing indigenous people, particularly indigenous women. HB 1237 and SB 164 would require the Division of Criminal Investigation to investigate the issue and share data collected with local, state and federal entities.

The bills come less than a month after Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Rodney Bordeaux urged lawmakers to look into the issue during his State of the Tribes address, calling violence against indigenous women a “big, huge problem.”

According to the Indian Law Resource Center, more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetimes, and more than half have experienced sexual violence.

LGBTQ+ issues

Despite Senate Bill 49's recent defeat in the Senate Education committee, legislators are still attempting to change the South Dakota High School Activities Association's policy on transgender student athletes. Like SB 49, House Bill 1225 would require students to participate in sports based on their "birth sex."

Legislators have also introduced House Bill 1108, which would prohibit public schools from teaching about gender identity or expression in kindergarten through seventh grade.