Governor Noem Introduces Legislation to Defend Property Rights
PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem introduced two property rights bills related to the Department of Game, Fish & Parks (GFP).
“So far this legislative session, we’ve taken steps to promote life and liberty. Now, we’re working to defend property rights,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “The two bills introduced today work together to build on GFP’s excellent work to protect property rights and promote trust between conservation officers and South Dakotans.”
The first bill restricts the entry of conservation officers onto certain private land without permission. Under current precedent, conservation officers could enter into open fields without a warrant, though GFP’s department policy prevents this. Similar legislation had been sponsored in the past by Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden during his time serving in the South Dakota state legislature.
“It’s important that we close the open fields loophole to ensure that our private property rights are protected just as the Fourth Amendment protects our homes from unreasonable search and seizure,” said Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden. “Governor Noem has long been a champion of constitutional freedoms. I’m pleased to work alongside the Governor to protect the property rights of landowners.”
The second bill revises provisions regarding inspections, seizures, and forfeitures involving GFP. This legislation would protect property rights in the enforcement of game and fish laws by ending the ability of conservation officers to take and keep private property of hunters and fishermen who break these laws. Such forfeiture of property would greatly outweigh the financial penalty tied to enforcement of game and fish laws.
“We want to make sure that the punishment fits the crime,” continued Governor Noem. “When someone violates a game and fish law, they should be fined and punished as per current law. But they shouldn’t lose their boat, truck, gun, or dog as a result. Our conservation officers understand the need to strike the right balance between enforcement efforts and property rights.”