Session 1 Week 5

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This week in the Capitol debate was a bit more on the tense side at times. We heard several more controversial topics both in committee and on the floor. We started Monday in Education taking final action on a controversial school counselor bill that would have given parents the right to confidential information concerning their child who is younger than age 16. That bill was defeated in committee.  On Tuesday, Education heard two controversial issues, one dealing with the Smarter Balance Assessments (tests) that evaluate the Common Core standards that South Dakota students will be taking for the first time this year. HB 1093 simply allowed parents to excuse their child from having to take these tests. This bill failed by an 8-7 vote. That same day we also heard HB 1161 which would limit the High School Activity Association’s ability to create policy relating to sexuality or gender identity other than the basic distinction of male – female. This bill was in response to the Association’s policy to allow transgender students to participate in athletic events of their choosing regardless of birth certificate gender. This bill passed the education committee and was almost a companion bill to HB 1195 which declared void the aforementioned policy of the HSAA and passed the full House on Tuesday.

The Ag committee it was not quite as controversial as the Education Committee. We heard testimony on 1146 which limits who can see an individual’s hunting or fishing license and due to some questions we waited until Thursday to pass it out to the floor. We also passed SB 75 which gives West River ranchers 24 hours after having the cattle inspected to ship them out. Also on Thursday in Ag we passed out SB 45 which is the final product of several years of discussions on the production and sale of raw milk. It was a good bill and will allow all the groups at the table to help write the rules under which raw milk producers will operate.

On the House floor several topics that generated a fair amount of debate were heard. We changed the definition of a veteran to anyone who raised their hand taking an oath to support and defend the Constitution. As I already mentioned we declared void the transgender policy of the High School Activities Association. We declined to tinker with the voter approved minimum wage law which allowed the minimum wage to decrease in the event that CPI would decrease. We said that you do not need a permit to carry a concealed pistol in South Dakota, and we said no to removing the 3% cap on county assessed property taxes.

The Session has reached the halfway point and the issues are sometimes tough to make a decision on. Even if you cram the study of an issue into the few days (or day) you have to prepare for the next hearing you still get to the hearing, sit through it and feel like you just don’t have enough information to make a solid decision. But that’s the life and I’m loving it.

Thanks for all the input from home.

Rep. Joshua Klumb