...and has to help kill an abortion ban.
Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey is having a tough week. He saw two measures he sponsored defeated in committee, and he had to help kill a third that he decided was too risky to support.
This morning, amidst hard, emotional testimony, the Sioux Falls Republican saw House Bill 1183, his effort to repeal South Dakota's death penalty, killed in committee on a 7–6 vote. Rep. Hickey has publicly documented his conversion on capital punishment, contending that the death penalty is bad policy on retribution, deterrence, safety, closure, and economics.
Democrat Bernie Hunhoff supported Hickey, saying, "I just don't think you can kill enough people to make [South Dakota] a better place." Three Republicans—Lust, Munsterman, and Conzet—voted with Hunhoff and Dems Parsley and Killer (yes, irony) to move HB 1183 to the House floor, but Democrat Peggy Gibson voted with the slim and uncomfortable majority of Republicans to bury Hickey's repeal.
This defeat comes on the heels of Wednesday's firmer rejection of Rep. Hickey's HB 1255, his proposal to rein in payday lenders. Rep. Hickey thought he'd tempered his anti-usury politics into a compromise palatable to the payday-lending industry. He thought he had a deal with an industry that was just glad to see him back away from a threat to bring a crushing payday-lending interest cap to a public vote. He was wrong; payday lenders lined up to cry out against these reasonable regulations. House State Affairs killed HB 1255 11–2.
Fine, says Rep. Hickey. That's the way the usury industry wants to play? It's back to the ballot:
...Hickey said he’s done negotiating.
“This is a bunch of games. These people expressly told me to put this stuff in the bill, and now they’re here opposing it,” Hickey said. “They should have been in here supporting the bill. But instead they’re going to face a rate cap” [David Montgomery, "S.D. Ballot Fight Vowed on High-Interest Payday Loans," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.02.19].
I won't tease you too hard, Steve, for trusting payday lenders. Just hand me that petition when it comes.
To top it off, Rep. Hickey now has to come home and explain to District 9 voters why he voted against an abortion restriction.
Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) pitched House Bill 1240 to House Health and Human Services on Thursday. HB 1240 would have outlawed aborting fetuses with Down Syndrome. In the ongoing dishonesty of anti-abortion crusaders, Rep. Latterell asked that we punish the doctors who perform such abortions but not the women who approve and pay for what Latterell and his fellow campaigners blithely call murder and genocide.
Opposition had little to do with Down Syndrome and everything to do with women's rights and abortion in general. NARAL and others testified against HB 1240, saying that it was really an effort to drive another wedge between women and their legal right to bodily autonomy. An emotional Rep. Kathy Tyler, who described herself as a Catholic pro-life Democrat, said she'd never urge anyone to have an abortion, said HB 1240 was unenforceable and would only promote lying (women just wouldn't tell doctors their reason for having an abortion).
Rep. Hickey said he agrees with everything in HB 1240. He said there is nothing more despicable to him than abortion. He said the "callous buzzards" in the legal department at Planned Parenthood were secretly rooting for this bill so they could challenge it in court. He called NARAL and the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families "wicked." He said he worried there was a case that could undermine the whole complex legal battle he and fellow anti-abortion crusaders are waging in South Dakota to overturn Roe v. Wade.
House Health and Human Services split on a motion to pass the bill, 6–6. The committee then banished the bill to the 41st day on an 8–4 vote. Rep. Steve Hickey voted both times against HB 1240.
Hickey has his reasons, but now he must march the campaign trail with a vote against an abortion ban on his scorecard.
South Dakota will continue to kill prisoners. South Dakota will continue to countenance exploitative lending practices. South Dakota will see religious crusaders continue to wage a complex, multi-pronged, and uncompromising campaign against women's rights. It's been a tough week in Pierre for Steve Hickey and for South Dakota.