Rep. Kopp has been backpedaling for a week, trying to distance himself from the embarrassing belief in astrology that the original resolution declared before the Senate amended the resolution into meaninglessness. He repeated on SDPB's Dakota Midday today his claim that some of the nuttier text in the resolution was slipped into the resolution by someone in the Legislative Research Council and that he didn't catch it before the House vote.
Wait. Really? If Kopp is suggesting the LRC fudged a bill, that's more than a screw-up or a prank. That's an unelected bureaucrat attempting to subvert the legislative process by hijacking legislation written by an elected official. Even on a resolution, that's an enormous accusation. If it were true, I would expect a lot of shouting and heads rolling.
But I seriously doubt the Legislative Research Council would risk the public trust by daring to insert an entire paragraph of "goobledy-guck," as Kopp called it on SDPB this noon. And even if that remarkable claim were true, can we accept Kopp's further claim that neither he nor the 35 other House members who approved the original laughable text noticed the gobbledy-guck? Only if we assume that resolutions really mean so little to legislators that they aren't paying attention.
Kopp certainly seems to wish now that no one were paying attention to his resolution. More than once in today's SDPB interview, Kopp emphasized that his proposal is just a resolution, not a bill, and doesn't require anyone to do anything.
Well, a non-binding resolution certainly doesn't seem to have been his original intent:
Schools in South Dakota should teach both sides of the global warming issue, Republican state Rep. Don Kopp of Rapid City says. Kopp plans to push that idea during the upcoming legislative session with a bill that would require public schools that teach the threats of global warming to also provide students with the skeptical view of climate change.
“If a school is paid for with public funds, if they teach global warming or show Al Gore’s video, as most of our schools here in Rapid City did, then they will have to show the opposing view,” Kopp said Monday. “I believe that’s only fair. If they only hear one side of the story, that’s all they get.”
Kopp said he has pre-filed legislation in the Legislature that would change the law requiring both sides of global warming to be covered in school classes, if the issue is brought up at all. He doesn’t intend to include a penalty for schools that don’t follow the law but also doubts it would be necessary.
“If it passes, I assume they (schools) will follow the law and show both sides of the issue,” he said [emphasis mine; Kevin Woster, "Rapid City lawmaker: Schools should teach both sides of global-warming," Rapid City Journal, 2010.01.04].
Bill. Law. Require. Kevin Woster makes mistakes... but I doubt he'd make that many in one article.
I suspect the GOP leaders talked enough sense into Kopp to get him to go for a resolution. But the above text tells me Kopp wanted a law. He wanted to force science teachers to give equal time to global warming denialism... and maybe astrology. Kopp's resolution, watered down as it is, still declares the anti-science agenda that he wants, and now that the South Dakota Legislature officially wants. By trying to dodge responsibility with more unlikely claims, Kopp only makes his legislative effort more derisible.
I hate to say it, but on this issue, our fair state deserves all the mockery it gets.
Update 2010.03.04: Badlands Blue agrees: Kopp's claim of LRC mischief means real scandal in Pierre: either heads roll on the Capitol third floor, or Kopp gets censure for insulting institutional integrity.