PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem’s riot boosting legislation passed through the House State Affairs Committee on a 10-3 vote Wednesday, Feb. 12. House Bill 1117 will be considered by the House of Representatives.
HB 1117 would "repeal and revise certain provisions regarding riot, to establish the crime of incitement to riot, and to revise provisions regarding civil liability for riot and riot boosting,” according to information on the South Dakota Legislative Research Council website.
The bill is in anticipation of protests that will likely occur during the construction of TC Energy’s Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Keystone XL includes approximately 316 miles of pipeline and seven pump stations in South Dakota. The project crosses nine counties including Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Candi Brings Plenty with the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, testified against the bill saying that the state doesn’t not need to pass laws that would intimidate peaceful protest.
Brings Plenty said the bill does more to create a state of fear and pits activists against law enforcement and government officials.
Remi Bald Eagle with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe said the state should work with tribes to protect Native people from the “harms posed by crude pipelines” and asked who will be there to protect the tribes from a devastating leak or oil spill.
“The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe feels it’s a constitutional experiment that was wrong,” Bald Eagle said.
“Because they couldn’t create criminals, they’re trying to make civil penalties in a constitutional experiment that is also wrong.”
County sheriffs and emergency managers along the Keystone XL route have been preparing for the protests during construction since last year.
During a county commission meeting on July 2, 2019, Jones County Emergency Manager Beth Newbold shared information on the “civil disturbance” meetings she has been attending and was then instructed to apply for a TC Energy grant.
Jones County Sheriff Rich Sylva also told commissioners he attended civil disturbance workshops.
Lyman County Auditor Debra Halverson told the Forum News Service that TC Energy provided a rough schedule of construction.
Mobilization of camp storage yards and equipment followed by tree felling is expected to be completed by the end of February.
Work on the man camp yards and mowing along the pipeline route is planned for March.