Legislative View

Legislative View
As we come into the final week of session there are a lot of unresolved issues, the most important of which is education funding. The entire Senate supports a plan that would build by $7.5 million a year until we have an additional $30 million above the formula every year. This was a compromise bill to my legislation that would have grown to an additional $100 million. It is not as much as I would like, but it is a good plan B. The problem has been the majority in the house want to wait until next year to do anything.

HB 1222 was the so-called "intellectual diversity" bill. It would have required the Board of Regents to publish a report every year on the intellectual diversity of the staff of the state's six universities. This was brought by an out-of-state group who was attempting to use South Dakota as a test case. I opposed this bill. The prime house sponsor admitted that there is no problem in the state and that this was a response to national issues. The only argument given on the Senate floor was that it must be needed because nobody wanted it. HB 1222 failed.

HB 1215 was the anti-abortion bill. This bill would outlaw all abortions in South Dakota. The only exception would be the life of the mother. Like most people, this is an issue that I've spent a lot of time thinking about. I simply could not support a bill that did not have an exception for rape or the health of the mother. We were told during debate that a rape exception would dehumanize a fertilized egg. I believe that if a woman had no choice in the act that led to her egg being fertilized and we give her no choice in what happens after that, then we have actually dehumanized her in the worst way imaginable.

We had two more bills that dealt with sex education. HB 1217 would have required only abstinence education be taught in public schools. HB 1194 would have made it illegal to distribute contraception in schools. I opposed both of these bills. There is no school in South Dakota handing out contraception to its students and I think these are policies that are best set by the individual school districts. I did notice that in Senate education we spent an unusually large amount of time talking about bills that pertain to sex. I'm glad to say that we killed them all. I don't understand certain legislator's preoccupation with this issue.

We will be wrapping up our final business with a 2 more days this week. We will be done by the time you read this, but I can still be reached at (605) 624-6178 or by e-mail at sen.nesselhuf@state.sd.us.

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