Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias Maybe there�s a good explanation for it.

We hope there is.

The �it� we�re talking about is the rather inconsistent voting patterns of District 17 Sen. Joe Reedy of Vermillion.

Shortly before the general election last November, Reedy and other legislative candidates addressed the Vermillion Rotary Club.

The candidates were asked to express their views on a variety of topics. One of them was smoking legislation affecting restaurants that was passed by the 2002 Legislature.

Reedy said he believed South Dakota businesses were facing too many government regulations before the state passed the smoking ban. He noted an instance when he was told that he couldn�t play music in his hardware store in Vermillion, because the music was copyrighted.

Last year, Reedy opposed SB118, which was signed into law by Gov. Janklow. It prohibits smoking in public places, but doesn�t apply to motel rooms, video lottery establishments or places that hold an on-sale liquor license.

On Jan. 31, 2002, Sen. Gary Moore of Yankton tried to get the S.D. Senate to reconsider the vote by which SB118 was passed. Reedy supported the motion, but it failed on a 17-18 vote.

This is how Reedy informed District 17 constituents of the Senate�s action in his Feb. 8, 2002 Legislative Report column in the Plain Talk: �After long debate the Senate passed a bill which would make smoking illegal in all enclosed public places or businesses except in sleeping rooms in hotels and motels, video lottery casinos or bars, and tobacco and liquor stores. Private homes, except when used for day care, would also be exempt.

Senate Bill 118 squeaked through the Senate on an 18-17 vote.�

He never told us back then that it �squeaked by� in part because of his opposition to it.

What a difference a year makes.

During this year�s legislative session, Reedy and Reps. Schafer and Nesselhuf introduced SB192. In its original form, it would have prohibited anyone from smoking tobacco in any public place or place of employment.

It also would have struck the provisions in last year�s law that spelled out where smoking is allowed � mainly places with liquor licenses, video lottery establishments and in motel rooms.

SB192 has been extensively amended since it was first introduced. As of this week, it has been transformed into an act that allows local units of government to regulate the sale, distribution and use of tobacco products.

The amended version states that its provisions are �the minimum standards� relating to the distribution, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

What we wonder is this: Are those �minimum standards� more than what the District 17 senator intended?

Reedy, who uttered disdain of government regulations during his re-election campaign, now appears to be one of the sponsors of a bill that�s adding even more regulation to South Dakota businesses.

We�re also a bit confused about Reedy�s votes on a piece of legislation that � if approved � would have had a major impact on the public�s right to know about the dealings of public governmental bodies.

Earlier this month, the Senate Local Government Committee, of which Reedy is a member, began deliberations on SB178. The bill, if passed into law, would have allowed government entities in South Dakota�s larger cities to post their public notices on the Internet rather than make them more accessible to the general public by requiring their publication in newspapers.

On Feb. 5, Reedy voted for not passing the bill as amended. That vote failed in committee. Later that day, the committee voted to defer the measure to another day. That vote was successful, despite Reedy�s vote against it.

On Feb. 10, the committee voted to send the measure to the Senate with a �do not pass as amended� recommendation. Reedy voted for that recommendation.

On Feb. 11, however, he voted for a motion to strike the word �not,� which, I�m assuming, means he changed his mind in one day to recommend that the Senate pass the bill.

That assumption of mine is backed up by his vote on Feb. 12. The measure was brought to the Senate floor, with a �do pass as amended� recommendation.

Fortunately, the bill failed, with 22 senators voting against it, and 13 voting for it. Reedy was one of the 13.

We�re certainly not experts on all of the workings of the South Dakota Legislature. We believe, however, that we know enough about the process to recognize inconsistencies in a lawmaker�s performance.

There may be a good explanation for Reedy�s voting practices. If there is, he should have no problem telling us why he votes the way he does.

We believe he owes his constituents an explanation.

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