Stop wasting our time

Stop wasting our time
In a café in one of the communities I once worked, the owner framed a poster and hung in near the cash register for all to see.

It read: No one's life, liberty or property is safe as long as the Legislature is in session.

This was naturally, the businessman's way of expressing a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor.

All joking aside, however, it's time to consider making some serious changes in Pierre.

It's time for all of us, using the initiative or referendum process, to change the South Dakota Constitution. Our state Legislature has been demonstrating lately that meeting on an annual basis only gives it more opportunities to waste our time and resources.

It's time to reign in the South Dakota House and Senate. They don't need to meet every year. Allowing them to gather in session once every two years should be sufficient.

For example, I bet when you voted against banning abortion in South Dakota last November, you thought the issue was settled. Wrong.

Here we are, only four months later, and guess what's being bounced around the halls of the Legislature. A new abortion bill.

Granted, this one is different from the one we voted on in November. It contains exceptions for rape and incest, but doctors could do abortions in those instances only if the crimes are reported to authorities.

The legislation, introduced Wednesday in the state House, lists 25 of the Legislature's 105 lawmakers as sponsors. An abortion bill last year that contained an exception only to save the life of a woman had 41 sponsors, but it was referred to the ballot and later rejected by voters.

The measure seeking to ban most abortions in South Dakota is an effort to create a legal challenge that supporters hope would work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps causing the court to reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Highlight the word perhaps in the above paragraph. Hindsight is always 20-20, and we can't help but believe that last November, a majority of South Dakotans decided that it would be close to impossible to get the courts to change the landmark ruling.

Last November, most South Dakota voters decided it was time to increase the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack.

South Dakota Rep. Gary Moore (D-Yankton) has been squawking about that, and has stated he will likely introduce a bill to reduce the tobacco tax increase that voters approved late last year.

So much for respecting the will of the people.

The top time-waster of this year's session, naturally, was the Dan Sutton hearing, held last week by a nine-member discipline and expulsion committee.

The South Dakota Senate decided this week to follow the committee's recommendation and censure Sutton, a Democrat from Flandreau, who possibly engaged in inappropriate conduct with a legislative page last year.

The South Dakota attorney general has stated that the investigation involving Sutton is still ongoing. We believe all South Dakotans would have been better served if this case would have stayed out of the hallways of the Capitol and been handled by our state's law enforcement.

Our state lawmakers are proving to be champions at wasting the time of their constituents. They should be given less of an opportunity to do that.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at

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