State legislature produces good, bad and ugly results

Joshua Horton

Joshua Horton

One of my favorite movies of all time is “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

It’s a spaghetti western about three outlaws seeking a golden treasure hidden in a graveyard. None of the three trust each other.

Politics is similar. Some is good, some is bad, and it all can be ugly.

Last week the South Dakota Legislature wrapped up its 79th session. This week, Tony and I decided to give you a rundown of the good, bad and ugly, minus the gunfights.

The “Good”

Being the liberal democrat that I am I found that the passage of SB 182 as one of the best policy moves made by the legislature this year. The bill prohibited the use of capital punishment for juveniles.

It’s a great example of bipartisan work to respect an important human rights issue.

The other outstanding accomplishment of the legislature was the passage of SB 200, 201, and 216 which created a Science and Technology Authority, transferred funds to the new authority for the purchase of insurance for the Homestake Project, and transferred management over to the new authority.

This was a strongly bipartisan move by the legislature and one that will bring much needed research and development dollars to the state over the course of the next few years.

The “Bad”

Unnoticed by most, there was a bill, SB 94 that would have increased the state’s minimum wage in certain cases. That bill never left committee. It’s quite sad that the legislature didn’t push this issue more in light of the number of struggling families in South Dakota.

There was also HB 1289, my pick as the worst bill that didn’t make it. This bill would have declared certain non-marital unions invalid and precluded individuals in those unions from receiving certain benefits. It was written to invalidate civil unions.

I am glad it didn’t pass the committee, but I am disgusted that it was done for the wrong reason. It was voted down was because it would have hurt straight couples. It was not voted down because it would have hurt people.

The “Ugly”

The Governor’s plan to quell the demand for lower food tax was fulfilled in HB 1308. It will exempt the poorest families and individuals in South Dakota, but not everyone who needs it.

This issue is far from resolved as the Democratic Party will have enough signatures soon to put it on the ballot next November.

Finally I reach the most hotly debated bill this year, HB 1191, the ban on abortion.

I guarantee that there will be another version of this presented next year.

I don’t like to debate this issue because I believe it to be a moral issue, not a political one. HB 1191 was political in nature and in reality would have done little to end abortions in South Dakota.

Here’s a little insight into the parties that I learned during this session: Democrats make policies that regulate people’s public lives; Republicans make policies that regulate people’s private lives.

Reach Joshua Horton at [email protected].