We have reached that part of the legislative session where the floor debates are often intense. This past week, the hot topics in the House were hemp, civics and gender dysphoria.
HB1191 would allow South Dakota farmers to grow industrial hemp. This possibility has been discussed for some time, but with the federal government including it in the 2018 farm bill, there is renewed emphasis. Proponents say the product has thousands of commercial applications including things like rope and clothing and would provide another option for farmers to diversify. The Ag community seems to be united behind allowing farmers to grow it, and at a time when our farmers could use some good news, I joined the majority in the House to approve the bill with a strong 65-2 vote. Unfortunately, it does look like its close cousin, marijuana, and our Governor is nervous. She is smart to encourage caution, as we do need to do this right. It still has to get through the Senate and past the Governor’s pen – so “stay tuned”.
HB1066 is a bill that would require high school students receive education in civics and be able to pass a test of sample questions from the U.S. citizenship test in order to graduate. The statistics are frightening. Only 40% of Americans know enough about our country and the government to pass the test, and barely 25% of those under 40! We obviously need more emphasis on this subject. I voted for HB1066.
HB1108 is a short bill that bans “instruction in gender dysphoria” to children in Kindergarten through 7th grade in a public school. Like the subject, the debate was difficult and confusing. I voted with the majority in the House who believe that children of such a young and impressionable age should only be taught about sensitive subjects like this by a parent.
There is only one more week for committees to take action on bills from the “house of origin”. That means by this coming Friday, all 272 House bills and 188 Senate bills will have had a committee hearing and been acted on. With long days come short nights. I find myself waking in the middle of the night and being unable to get back to sleep. There are simply too many questions and thoughts about current debates to allow for good rest. I think that if you don’t have grey hair when you get here, you can almost watch it coming! Haven’t we seen that in our Presidents? To a lesser degree, it happens in Pierre too.
I’ll end this week with a little good news. Only 16 legislative days remain in this year’s session – and better yet, I hear it is less than 30 days until spring!
In service to God and you,
John Mills, Representative, District 4 firstname.lastname@example.org OR John.Mills@sdlegislature.gov