Heinemann’s Weekly Legislative Report

Rep. Leslie Heinemann
We have completed our third week of session and it has been a rewarding experience to move into the more complex issues before us. I will touch on a few of them to keep you up-to-date.
    HB 1087, the “School Sentinel Bill,” got through the House Education Committee on a close vote, eight to seven. As I mentioned last week, it was one of the bills I co-sponsored. There was a lot of emotional testimony, and a lot of misconceptions. I supported it because I thought it would be a “middle of the road” approach to the bigger question of “guns in schools” and the need for more school safety.
This bill would give local school boards the decision of whether their particular district needs someone trained with a gun to be present, and require the local sheriff’s input. It would mirror what present South Dakota code allows now, as is the case in the Flandreau School District, but would further allow school districts that feel a need for an armed presence, to have someone who would be as equally trained as a police officer, to carry a gun in school.
I believe that the decision to provide for school safety would be best left up to the local school boards, and what’s best for Harding County School District is not the same for Sioux Falls School District. This bill has a long way to go, so I’ll keep you informed in future columns.
To give you a flavor of what we, as your legislators, deal with on the committees and on the floor of the house as well, I would like to share with you one bill that won’t get any press, but “hit home” to me. My House, Health and Human Services committee heard testimony from Laurie Gill, secretary of Health and Human Resources, last Thursday morning on a bill to change the words “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” in South Dakota statute to “intellectual disabilities” or “intellectually disabled.”
I was struck by the fact that we haven’t used those terms for many years, yet our statute still contained them. I wanted, after some emotional difficulty, to carry that piece of clean-up legislation to the House floor, after passing out of committee 13-0.
Many of you know I have an older brother, who had to deal with these derogatory terms, especially during his teenage years, and I tried to defend him in many different situations, being his younger brother and closest companion. I’m humbled by the fact that I can help change the words that triggered what have been sometimes painful memories of both his and my past.
Tuesday was Madison day at the Legislature, and I enjoyed meeting and visiting with the large group of people that took a day off of work and school to come out and witness the legislative process first hand. Thank you for making the effort to come!
As always, I value your input and will try to respond if you are from District 8. Please tell me the bill number, your name and district. It’s helpful if you refer to the committee, but I can find that out as well. I can be reached at rep.heinemann@state.sd.us or 605-773-3851. It’s a pleasure serving the people of District 8.

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