PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A House committee has unanimously approved a bill to legalize and regulate the growth, processing, and transportation of industrial hemp in South Dakota. The bill's advancement to the House floor Thursday marked progress on an issue that was the subject of a split between legislators and Governor Kristi Noem last year.

Disagreements remain on how to fund the hemp program.

Noem says she still doesn't think that industrial hemp is a “good idea," but her office worked with legislators to craft the bill this year. She wants the hemp program to be closely regulated.

The South Dakota House also passed a bill Thursday that would criminalize agents who facilitate commercial surrogate pregnancies in the state.

The proposal would make acting as a surrogacy agent a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The bill exempts “altruistic" surrogate pregnancies and allows for the surrogate and child's health care costs to be covered. It also calls for the Legislature to study the issue over the next year.

The bill aims to make South Dakota one of a handful of states to ban commercial surrogacy contracts. It will next be considered by the Senate.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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