Somebody Save Us from these Non-Meandering Waters [OPINION]
I spent some years as a beat reporter covering legislatures. You remember, the collection of elected people camped out in state capitals around the country passing laws intended to make us safe and happy.
It’s vitally important stuff.
It can also be god-awful boring.
Thankfully, in South Dakota, the sessions are mercifully short, launching in early January and going home by early March. In other states the process can drag on for weeks and months, so we’re lucky in that way.
Every once in awhile these citizen lawmakers need to reassemble in the capital – for us that’s a village known as Pierre, way out west somewhere – to take on some pressing issue.
That’s happening today in fact, where South Dakota legislators are trying to solve the pesky challenge of regulation of “non-meandering lakes.”
I know. What the crap?
There’s no point trying to explain it all. If you want to read the bill here it is. It’s all in there and pretty straightforward. It might get amended, but I doubt it.
Problem is it takes two-thirds to pass because there’s an emergency clause that puts it in place immediately.
The governor calls special sessions when something really needs solving.
In this case, it’s lakes emerged and expanded in the 1990s during a particularly wet period. That caused clashes between property owners and fishing people and the like.
The Supreme Court got involved… people are upset… that’s my land… why can't I fish… business is down... get off my lawn… yada, yada, yada.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it needs solving.
But of all the issues that our Legislature needs to day-trip over, how did we end up with non-meandering waters?
I mean, what’s next? What happens when the meandering waters get out of control? Lakes and rivers living together!
These are our debates in our great state, for better or worse.
If we’re lucky, they’ll get stuck in a deadlock and have to spend more days in Pierre than they planned.
That’s penalty enough.