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KATIE ZERR: ‘Local control’ means only for certain issues in this legislature

Do our representatives in Pierre focus on what is best for the state of South Dakota and its residents or are some obsessed with personal agendas?
This session there has been a concerted effort to help provide care for their elderly. For years this issue was pushed on to the next year despite the pleas of some lawmakers to address it. The funding situation that has forced the closure of long-term care facilities in towns across the state including Mobridge, has finally gained the attention of some lawmakers.
Under the strong urging of the South Dakota Health Care Association legislators are trying to commit adequate resources to fund long-term care. Years of inadequate Medicaid reimbursement have resulted in the current crisis.
State lawmakers are also working on ways to help communities, like Mobridge, where the owner of the former facility continues to control the licenses. Legislation is being considered makes it easier for communities where closure happens, by not requiring them to go through that competitive request for proposal process.
Senator Wayne Steinhauer, a Hartford Republican is the prime sponsor of the bill. The Senate approved it 34-0.
But then there are the bills that seem like they are personal battles against those who aren’t white, conservative and “normal.”
HB 1175, which would establish a council to study the benefits of pre-school education in the state, never got out of committee with voting along party lines to kill it. The S.D. Department of Education had opposed the bill because it said there was no funding available for pre-school in South Dakota, which is one of only two states that does not provide pre-school.
The most controversial testimony heard this session came during a committee hearing on this bill started with Republican Rep. Steven Haugaard, a member of the State Affairs Committee, who said the measure “is a transformational approach to instilling more of a socialist agenda in the system.”
Another proponent of the bill, Florence Thompson, a retired school psychologist and president of a group called South Dakota Parents Involved in Education, advocated for kids to stay home longer. She argued it’s better for their development than pre-school and claimed pre-school is a part of “The sexual orientation transgender agenda. It’s in all of the schools now. They’re starting to push it younger and younger and so these kids are going to be indoctrinated and we’re going to start in pre-school.”
Thompson claimed early childhood education is a recruiting tool.
“So, this recruitment and I will call it recruitment and grooming to the LGBT lifestyle is being put in younger and younger and younger.  There is a federal push and I believe that we need to block this. Parents need to be able to raise their children to their own beliefs,” Thompson said.
She offered no proof of this claim, did not cite any data or did not offer anything to substantiate this claim but the Republicans on the committee voted to kill the bill.
It makes one wonder where our representatives in Pierre get information they use as a basis for their arguments.
Sen. Phil Jensen a Republican from Rapid City speaking on the need for HB 1225, which would require transgender high school athletes to compete according to their birth certificate or through a medical examination, showed a lack of education when it comes to what being transgender means.
“If I walk into my doctor’s office today and say, ‘I’m Ronald Reagan,’ my physician will say I’m delusional and give me an antipsychotic,” said Jensen. “Yet, instead, if I walked in and said, ‘I am a woman,” he would say, ‘Congratulations, you’re transgender.”
One hopes that Jensen does not someday have to face a child or grandchild whose life was made more difficult by his off-the-cuff remarks. Hate and intolerance creates an atmosphere of difficulty for humans. There are statistics to prove this, gathered by people who actually have an education in this field.
These stats prove that gay, lesbian and transgender youth are three times more likely to commit suicide than other youth.
HB 1234 that would add sexual orientation to South Dakota’s hate law was killed in committee because those testifying said hate crimes were covered under the current South Dakota law and that adding sexual orientation to that law would inhibit First Amendment rights to free speech and free thought.
In South Dakota, we are protected from harassment because of religion, race, ethnicity, ancestry, and national origin but it will continue to be legal to verbally harass someone who is not considered “normal” by state law.
Other bills introduced would have wrestled local control concerning science and health curriculum away from local school boards.
Local control. That is a mantra we hear from legislators until it comes to these kinds of bills.
Where is the local control in trying to override school board and the athletic association when it comes to issues dealing with special needs children?
If it has to do with children who are gay or transgender, then these legislators want their hands on “local control.”
– Katie Zerr-