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Bill clarifying county consolidation process passes House committee

Brent Duerre

A bill making it easier for counties to consolidate passed the House Local Government Committee Tuesday.

SB 199 clarifies the consolidation process and allows county commissions and citizens to initiate the process.

Supporters said the bill requires a study of how each consolidation would work – including county debts, the courthouse location, and other logistical issues. Voters from both counties would then have the final say on whether to consolidate.

Republican Rep. Greg Jamison said there’s a lot to consider when counties consolidate.

“In my district – Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties – there’s some unique challenges with both of them occupying the city of Sioux Falls – and I have struggled talking to those commissioners about how to combine our two counties and to consolidate and to save tax payers money,” Jamison said.

Republican Rep. Karla Lems of Canton said the bill would offer a pathway forward to study the nuances for consolidation.

“We have the northern part of Lincoln County that is Sioux Falls and three of our commissioners are from Sioux Falls, but yet our ag area is huge on the south end of Lincoln County and it's just a very unique animal,” said Lems.

Washabaugh and Jackson were the last counties in the state to merge in 1983.

The bill has already passed the Senate. It now heads to the House floor.

Krystal is the local host of "All Things Considered."