SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Senate Bill 70 proposes that the driver’s exam in South Dakota also be offered in Spanish.
Something that 47 states in America have already done.
Luz Selene Zamorano’s family is originally from Mexico, but she’s lived in Sioux Falls for 20 years now. During her time in South Dakota, she’s seen the Spanish speaking population grow.
Zamorano said, “Over the last 20 years I’ve seen a huge difference. There’s a lot more Hispanic people showing up from different places not just from Mexico. They come here to work in construction; they come here for a better life.”
With the Spanish population in South Dakota growing, Senator Reynold Nesiba says that the opportunity to get a driver’s license shouldn’t depend on the language you speak.
Nesiba said, “A driver's license examination isn’t an English language test. You can understand and be able to speak in English, but those questions are tricky even for some people in English.”
Zamorano added, “The test itself in English is meant to be a little tricky, so when translating it into Spanish it gets a lot trickier.”
A bill similar to SB 70 has failed the last two years in Pierre, but Nesiba believes this year there could be a different outcome.
“The prime sponsor on the Senate side is V.J. Smith from Brookings and on the House side is Jess Olson from Rapid City. Both of them are Republicans and we are hoping this time around having Republican leadership on both sides of this will help the bills outcome,” he added.
At the end of the day, the Senator says it’s about safety.
"SB 70 is also about public safety. We want people who are Spanish speaking to be able to read the manual, we want them to know that it’s required in South Dakota that you have to have insurance, and that we want them to know the rules of the road before they take the exam. It keeps us all safer” said Nesiba.
Senate Bill 70 passed the Senate Transportation Committee vote Friday morning 5-2.