Senator Parsley’s week five legislative report

By Sen. Scott Parsley, Dist. 8

Week five saw a number of bills move through the committee and floor process. Bills that were heard in committee included House Bill 1182, the Governor’s bill that increases sales tax by half a cent with the new revenue dedicated to increasing teachers’ salaries. Many educators used one of their personal days to come to Pierre to talk to legislators encouraging passage of HB 1182 and the three companion Senate bills.
HB 1182 was heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Monday and was moved out of the committee on a (9-0) vote. The bill was then scheduled to be on the House floor Wednesday. Many educators were in the House Gallery to listen to the debate on the bill that will have a major impact on their lives. To the surprise and disappointment of those in the gallery and many others, a seldom used rule was invoked that ended debate on the bill that day and would not allow the bill to be debated for two days. Because the earliest the bill could be debated was Friday and the Legislature doesn’t meet on Friday or Monday due to President’s Day, the bill will not be heard until next Tuesday.
There may be several reasons why rule 5-17 was invoked, but many believe it was because those who oppose the tax increase didn’t have enough votes to defeat the bill. Regardless of the reason for invoking the rule, it once again shows how little respect some legislators have for our teachers. As I said above, the teachers who were in Pierre had taken a personal day from school to listen to the debate. Most teachers receive a few days of personal leave a year and, once those days are gone, if teachers wish to take a day to watch one of their children’s activities or attend a friend’s funeral, they must take a day without pay.
Hopefully, debate on HB 1182 will get back on track next week and the bill will move forward.
On another school-related issue, HB 1008, a bill that would require schools to have a separate bathroom for transgender students, passed out of the Senate Education Committee and will be coming to the Senate floor next week. Testimony on this bill talked about the potential cost to schools if the schools are sued for discrimination as a result of passing this bill. Attorneys testified that South Dakota schools that had separate bathrooms for transgender students would be in violation of federal law and subject to law suits. In the House Education Committee, the bill was amended to remove language that would have required the state to defend law suits against schools. As a result, all of the costs of defending the law suit would fall on the schools.
There was also testimony from parents of transgender children and transgender adults and children who feared that having separate bathrooms would make them targets for bullying.
I plan on opposing this bill when it comes to the floor.
I sponsored SB 108, a bill that would have required parental notification that flu shots their children receive may contain mercury and that there are vaccines available without mercury. The Health Department and the Medical Association testified against the bill on the grounds that there is a notice of mercury in the information given to those receiving flu shots. I don’t disagree that the information is in the three sheets of paper given at the time of the flu shot; however, my bill would have put the notification in the same box that you sign acknowledging that you have been given the information about the shots. The bill passed out of committee (6-1) but failed on the Senate floor 16 to 18.
As always, I am interested in hearing from you on issues before the legislature. You can contact me at svpar@hotmail.com.

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