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Friday, February 19, 2010

Legislative Notes: House Says Yes to Usury, Maybe to Education, No to Guns at Work

How's the Legislature doing?

Not so good in the eyes of the Lord... or at least of a faithful servant. Father Timothy Fountain Logan unloads Proverbs 28:8 on the Senate Commerce Committee and our usury-addicted state for once again declining to rein in predatory payday lenders. Whither South Dakota values....

Not so bad on education. Yesterday the House unanimously tabled HB 1050, the Governor's proposal to change the school funding formula and give our schools zero increase in state aid in FY 2011. I learned from Gary Ellenbolt on SDPB yesterday that, in our Legislature, tabling is actually a harsher sentence than deferral to the 41st day. Deferral at least allows supporters to speak their piece; tabling does not allow debate. After six days of kicking the can, the House evidently realized the Governor's proposal was so bad it didn't even warrant discussion. Ouch.

Of course, they still have to come up with a plan of their own. If they need to save money, perhaps they should look at shortening high school to two years (Yes! shout thousands of bored sophomores).

O.K. on Second Amendment sensibility. Half of the House plus one realized they didn't have to worry about their NRA ratings over public safety yesterday with the defeat of HB 1169. Rep. Lederman spoke of the right to keep a gun in your locked car. Rep. Engels won the day with his sensible argument that some employers—like hazardous chemical manufacturers, schools, mental health facilities—may have a countervailing right to keep guns a safe distance away. This bill was another lawsuit waiting to happen, as its application to public employers would have violated the federal gun-free zones around schools. District 8's reps split, with Fargen voting aye and Lange voting nay.

Improving, slowly but surely, on bicycles. They couldn't pass SB 70, but most of the drivers I deal with already have figured out they ought to leave three feet when they pass me on my bicycle (assuming they can pass me—zoom!). But the legislators are learning: check out the featured audio of Senator Mike Vehle on MinusCar! Senator Vehle pointed out that South Dakota state law entitles bicycles to the full lane and that SB 70 would actually have reduced the safety buffer for cyclists.

And whither the Blog Control Acts? House State Affairs has yet to set a hearing date for HB 1277 and 1278. According to the legislative calendar, these bills have to pass the full House by the end of business Tuesday to stay alive. Rep. Hamiel, you didn't forget these bills on your desk again, did you? I call one rule-suspension per bill!


  1. I support reigning in payday lenders but this bill was almost pointless. Restricting nothing but the interest rate does next to nothing in protecting people from digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole.
    It would be better to block multiple payday loans and capping the loans at a percentage of the person's verified income. I'd even go further and enact something similar for credit card debt.

  2. tabling a zero increase in state aid during a recession for the single largest state budget item. Pathetic that the politicians can't stomach not spending money they don't have


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