Political experts weigh in on controversial proposed bills in South Dakota

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 6:58 PM CST
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Our country is in a time where politics seem more divided than ever.

This year, several of South Dakota's proposed bills have gained national attention and saw major push back.

Reactions are mixed; some proposals gained applause, others raised questions and a few saw major push back.

This has caused concern over the bills reflecting polarized views.

To get an idea introduced at the state capitol isn't all that difficult, it just needs a legislator to sponsor the proposal.

Augustana Government Professor Joel Johnson says, "I think we're seeing in our national politics as well as state politics a lot of people just concerned about the course of the nation and so that causes people to think about what do we need to introduce to keep things going as I would like them to go."

Some of these introduced bills have received major push back, including House Bill 1057; the now killed bill that sought to ban gender reassignment treatments for transgender youth.

House Bill 1215, which only recognizes marriage in South Dakota as that between a man and a woman, has also sparked controversy.

"In states where the legislature is controlled by one party, you're likely to get bills proposed that are more in line with what the party loyalists have in mind," says Johnson.

But, the process to get a bill passed isn't easy.

Jason Hancock, the director of the South Dakota Legislative Research Council, says, "So that you're not rushing things through." "It's important that everybody gets a chance to see what's in it, to debate it to talk about it, and potentially modify it."

This also gives the public an opportunity to advocate for or against a bill.

In many cases, social media has acted as an influential platform to voice the public's opinion.

It also has it's drawbacks, Johnson says, "Because of social media everything's happening so rapidly and you see something introduced as legislation, that doesn't mean it's going to become a law. Simply, it was introduced."

"Our system is working pretty well when it tends to filter out ideas that don't gain strong support across a broad spectrum of the community. And pushes forward those that actually do start gaining majority support."

The public does have access to every proposed bill online.

As the bills are processed through committees and chambers, every amendment proposed, approval or killing of a bill is documented and updated for the public to see.