Legislators calling for special session to deal with landowner’s rights

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELOLAND) — Property rights are at the heart of a South Dakota lawmaker’s call for a special legislative session in the wake of surveying done for proposed carbon dioxide pipeline in South Dakota.

Republican Rep. Jon Hansen is calling for a special session to defend landowner rights. A representative from Summit Carbon Solutions, which is seeking to build a pipeline, tells KELOLAND News that surveying continues in South Dakota.

“I have literally heard from landowners all across the eastern side of this state deeply concerned about the loss of their private property rights,” Hansen said.

Democratic Rep. Oren Lesmeister, who represents northwestern South Dakota in the House, also believes a special session is needed.

“We’ve got people that have been there for centuries, I mean literally, and this is their livelihood, and they take personal pride in their property, personal property rights,” Lesmeister said. “And they’re being trampled on right now … and it is by law. That is one thing; they do have the right to survey. We’re not saying they don’t.”

“The call for a special session is really coming from farmers and landowners primarily who are really concerned about the lack of private property rights or the attack on private property rights,” Hansen said.

Republican Rep. Will Mortenson, who served as House majority leader in the legislative session earlier this year, shared support for property owners but says a special session isn’t the best path right now.

“A special session at this point, without consensus with the Senate wouldn’t yield results,” Mortenson said. “So we’d go talk, we might score some political points, but we wouldn’t get done the things we need to get done. That’s going to happen through working with the Senate. Until we have some consensus with the Senate on some measures that will pass, I think it would waste taxpayer dollars and legislator time.”

The surveying taking place is legal. The proposed CO2 pipeline from Summit Carbon Solutions would go through five Midwestern states, and according to their representative, 70% of impacted landowners have agreed to voluntary easements.

Presiding officers of both the House and Senate need the support of two-thirds of each chamber to have a special session. Lesmeister told us that this proposed legislative session doesn’t have this support.

Back on Tuesday’s Brown County Commission meeting Dennis Feickert admits that a special session will likely not happen.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted on Wednesday from her personal account that “If the legislature wants to call themselves into special session to change the law, I look forward to reviewing what they send to my desk.”