The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee includes House Bill 1056 on its agenda Tuesday morning. HB 1056 includes a whole lot of housekeeping, tedious changes like replacing agriculture with agricultural in references to the ag mediation program. Someone must really want an adjective....

Dig through the style and form, and you'll find some interesting changes. For one, serving as state ag secretary is about to become cheaper. Right now, the person chosen by the Governor to lead the state Department of Agriculture is required by law to put up a bond of at least $10,000. The secretary's appointed executive assistants have to put bonds of at least $5,000. Sections 3 and 4 of HB 1056 say, "Nah, we trust you," and strike those bond requirements.

For what it's worth, numerous other public officials have to put up bonds to serve. SDCL 3-5-3 requires security deposits from all sorts of renters of public offices:

  • State Auditor: $10K
  • Secretary of State: $5,000
  • Commissioner of School and Public Lands: $20,000
  • Attorney General: $3,000
  • county commissioners: $1,000
  • county auditor: minimum $2,000
  • county treasurer: minimum $4,000, unless the county collects less than $2,000 in taxes, in which case the bond is a minimum of $1,000
  • county constable: minimum $200

The highest state officeholder bonds I've found so far are $100,000 required of the director of the Division of Insurance and $50,000 for that division's actuary and attorney (see SDCL 58-2-12).

Sections 9 and 10 offer a small but useful clarification of conservation district powers. Current law allows counties to contribute money to conservation districts to protect "soil and water resources" that protect the county's tax base. Section 9 replaces "soil and water" with "natural." This change would appear to allow counties to disburse funds for, say, wildlife habitat projects carried out by conservation districts. Section 10 on conservation district powers replaces a number of instances of "soil" with "natural resources". These changes appear to clarify that conservation districts may conduct water conservation projects that aren't directly tied to agriculture.

Sections 7 and 22 suggest the state ag secretary wants less to do with trees. Section 7 removes the state's shelterbelt program from the State Conservation Commission's portfolio, thus working with HB 1055 to abolish the shelterbelt program. Section 22 removes the requirement that the state forester cooperate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in providing assistance to landowners "for protecting farm buildings, crops, and fields from erosion; and for furnishing forest cover beneficial for water conservation and for wildlife habitat."

HB 1056 is up for discussion before House Agriculture and Natural Resources tomorrow, Tuesday morning, at 7:45 a.m. Get ready for minutiae and amendments!