Legislature ponders cooperative efforts with North Dakota

South Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 1997  | January 1997 issue

The South Dakota Legislature is considering several bills that would encourage state government bodies to cooperate with their counterparts in North Dakota.

The bills stem from several meetings of the North Dakota—South Dakota Commission of legislators from both states that met several times last year to discuss ways that the two states could share resources. According to South Dakota Sen. Barbara Everist, a member of the commission and a sponsor of several bills, the states are so alike that collaboration makes sense. "You can't imagine the possibilities that exist out there for cooperation given our similarities," Everist says. For example, both states are ag oriented, so the commission looked at testing labs and questioned if services are being duplicated, she adds.

The commission heard from a variety of sources, including business people, state department heads and university officials, about ways the states might cooperate. "We made no assumptions, we looked at everything—highways, insurance risk pools," Everist says.

While some of the bills may face opposition, Everist says she expects several to pass. The bills under consideration would:

  • allow the university's Board of Regents to explore cooperative purchasing agreements with the North Dakota Board of Higher Education. The bill also looks at implementing joint student follow-up processes, developing and improving research facilities and capabilities, distance education and information systems and providing reciprocity between the states for certain low-enrollment programs.
  • permit the Department of Transportation to undertake certain joint highway maintenance activities with North Dakota, including sharing sand or salt stockpiles and snow plowing on border highways.
  • explore the possibility of insurance risk pools.

The North Dakota Legislature is considering similar legislation, but regardless of what bills are approved, Everist says, "the spirit [of cooperation] won't die."

Kathy Cobb