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South Dakota’s foreign land ownership law one of several now in effect

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(The Center Square) – A bill that bans China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia or Venezuela from owning agricultural land in South Dakota took effect Monday.

The bill also prohibits any of the countries from leasing agricultural land unless it is for research and is no more than 320 acres or is for the contract feeding of livestock under certain circumstances.

“Evil Foreign Governments, like the Chinese Communist Party, are not our friends. They should not be free to purchase our precious ag land,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in a written statement on Monday. “This legislation will keep South Dakota’s top asset secure and stop Evil Foreign Governments from becoming our neighbors.”

Also taking effect Monday is a bill that raises the minimum teacher salary to $45,000. Schools received an additional 4% in the fiscal year 2025 budget.

School districts that do not raise teacher pay could face consequences from a newly created School Financial Accountability Board. The five-member board would be overseen by the Department of Education and its members would be appointed by the governor, according to the bill. School boards must also file annual reports outlining their spending with the Department of Education.

“We’ve all seen the amazing impact a great teacher can have on a student’s future,” the governor said. “We are making sure our teachers receive the pay that they rightly deserve for all the great work they do.”

A bill that bans trade organizations from denying convicted felons a license for some trades, such as plumbing and welding, is also in effect.

“This important legislation ensures that an unrelated criminal past won’t stop qualified applicants from filling our open jobs and successfully reentering the workforce,” Noem said. “We want to give people every opportunity to build a career and provide for themselves and their families.”

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