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Legislative Update Week 8

By March 2, 2024South Dakota
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“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” Ronald Reagan.

Freedom to Hand Count Ballots in Jeopardy
HB1140 was “hoghoused” this week in a form that would stifle the rights of the people of South Dakota to petition for a hand count of the ballots in an election. Many counties have taken advantage of our law, allowing citizens to do an initiated measure in their county that would allow the people to vote whether or not they want a hand count of the ballots in an election. Apparently, Senate leadership learned of this effort and decided to change the rules in the middle of the game. Our South Dakota Constitution Article 3, Article 6, Section 4 and the U.S. Constitution states that “the right of petition, … share never be abridged.” Ballots have been hand-counted for centuries.

ACTION: Send a message to your legislators using our Action Center HERE urging them to oppose the amended HB1140. South Dakota citizens have a constitutional right to petition for the right to hand count ballots, as it has been done for centuries. Do not change the rules in the middle of the game.

Clarification of Trigger Statute
HB1224 required the creation of an informational video explaining our state’s abortion law that bans abortion in our state. HB1224 will clarify the current law as some in the medical field are questioning what is legal and what is not. HB1224 passed in the House this week. We are confident it will pass in the Senate as well.

Choice in Education
The Partners in Education good education choice bill (SB72) passed the Senate this week with a vote of 25-7. It passed in the House Education Committee 10-5. Just when we thought it was clear sailing for approval in the House, the bill got referred to House Appropriations. SB72 was finally heard in House Appropriations this week and then passed in the House 56-13. According to the Parents in Education website, “South Dakota Partners in Education empowers parents with tuition support so parents can choose the school that’s right for their children, regardless of cost.” SB72 will expand the program so more children can take advantage of it.

Signature Withdrawal Bill
HB1244 is a bill to provide a process to withdraw a signature from a petition for an initiated measure, constitutional amendment, or a referendum on a law in certain situations. While “Dakotans for Health” has been busy gathering signatures for the abortion ballot initiative, Life Defense Fund has been standing near them urging people to Decline to Sign the abortion measure. Many times, people have been told lies about the amendment, like, “It’s a pro-life measure” or “Sign the petition to repeal the food tax.”  When they find out they have been deceived, they are seeking a way to get their name off the petition. HB1244 will provide that process to withdraw their signature. This good bill passed in the House 59-9, passed in the Senate committee this week and will be voted on in the full Senate Monday, March 4.

If you have been deceived and signed this abortion petition mistakenly, please watch for the action available to remove your name.

School Library Books
HB1197 passed unanimously in the House and the Senate and was signed by the governor February 28. HB1197 is an act to establish provisions related to the rating of books available in school districts. It will establish a rating system that is age and grade-appropriate with criteria described in the bill and allows parental involvement.

Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer and action.
Linda Schauer
CWA of South Dakota