PIERRE, S.D. — Unless you’re talking in hands-free mode or holding a phone up to your ear, you’re going to be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor in South Dakota.

HB 1169 was signed into law March 27 and will go into effect July 1, along with several other successful bills from the 2020 legislative session.

The new law prohibits using any form of social media on a phone, tablet or any other mobile device.

Driving permits for minors

Another law also changes the required length of time for a minor to hold a vehicle or motorcycle instruction permit from 180 to 275 days.

SB 113, which will become effective July 1, also adds a new requirement of 50 hours of parents or guardian supervised driving. Ten of those hours much be during inclement weather and another 10 need to be hours driven at night.

A minor who has passed a driver’s education course will need to drive on an instructional permit for 180 days, double the previous 90 day requirement.

The law also changes the age for a mandatory restricted minor’s permit from 16 to 18 and prohibits any passengers that aren’t immediate family for the first six months driving on a restricted permit.

Gov. Kristi Noem suspended the new driving law for as long as the COVID-19 emergency is in effect.

Growing hemp

The state will have to submit a hemp program plan to the United States Department of Agriculture before farmers can attain the state licenses required to grow hemp.

The application review will take at least 60 days.

Lawmakers in support of the bill frequently warned that a hemp crop is not something producers should attempt to grow without extensive research and vetting of hemp seed dealers.

Hemp operations would need to be grown outdoors on at least five continuous acres. No indoor growing is allowed at this point.

All plants need to have a THC content of 0.03% or less. If tests determine that the plants exceed this level, they can be retested. If the second test shows the hemp plant still has a content over the allowed THC amounts, the crop must be destroyed.

Noem vetoed a bill that legalized hemp in the state during the 2019 legislative session for a lack of clear guidance and hemp program rules from the USDA.

The USDA has since released a rule outlining the provisions needed to approve a state or tribal hemp production plan.

Ag land assessments

The director of equalization for a county may adjust the assessed value of ag land by several additional factors and is required to document why those adjustments were made.

Agricultural land in South Dakota is assessed based on a productivity model. The director of equalization determines the capacity of the land to produce ag products, and may make adjustments to that assessment based on the land’s location, size, soil survey statistics, terrain, topographical conditions, climate, accessibility or surface obstructions.

The bill makes it a requirement that each adjustment is documented by using data from sources related to the adjustment being made. Current state law makes the documentation of an adjustment optional.

“The director of equalization shall document all supporting evidence for the adjustment determination. The director of equalization shall provide any adjustment documentation to the department upon request. The adjustment documentation must be kept in the director of equalization's office for the life of the adjustment,” the legislation states.

Property owners who feel their ag land’s productivity is affected by any of the factors listed above can request the director of equalization to review the land.

The request is made through a form provided by the state Department of Revenue.

The law will go into effect July 1.

Voter registration

Voter registration information available to the public at the county auditor’s office will no longer include a person’s birth date, not even their year of birth.

The change prohibits public access to any dates that could allow someone to ballpark a voter’s age.

Previous to the bill’s enrollment, a person’s birth year was considered public information on file at an auditor’s office.

Marriage licenses

Couples wanting to have their marriage licenses deemed legally valid will now have 90 days to do so at their register of deeds office from the time the license is issued.

After 90 days, the marriage license will become void and have no effect.

The statute changed by this legislation required licenses to be solemnized within 20 days of issuance.

Planning and zoning board members

Governing bodies of second and third class municipalities can now act as planning and zoning board members. The legislation changes state law that required small-town city councils to appoint different residents to serve as the planning and zoning commission members.

Plastic used in containers

Lawmakers tied the hands of local governments and any other political subdivision within the state from restricting the use of commerce of auxiliary containers, beverage containers, garbage bags, straws used for beverage consumption, or plastic packaging materials.

Hunting with drones

Locating and killing any wild bird or animal by using a drone in hunting is only a class 1 misdemeanor offense in the state, and will remain as such. However, under certain conditions a person can use aircraft to to hunt predators and varmints if the activity is only on or over private land with permission from the landowner or lessee.

A bill signed by Noem on Feb. 27 now clarifies that the operation of the drone in hunting, or the operation of any drone within the state, must comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Habitat Stamp requirements

Anyone over 18 who wants to apply for a hunting, fishing, or furbearer license in South Dakota will first need to obtain a hunting stamp from the Game, Fish, and Parks Department.

The stamp is electronic rather than an actual physical stamp.

The law, which goes into effect July 1, is a way to raise funds to improve habitat on public waterways and land. It will also be used to provide the public with more access to private land.

A habitat stamp is $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.

A habitat stamp will not be not required for the one-day hunting or fishing license, youth hunting license, private shooting preserve license, Hunt for Habitat entries, landowner hunting license, preference points, or to purchase a park entrance license or camping reservation.