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Jim Bolin Wins Back My Respect

I rode herd on Rep. Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton) last week for the seemingly inconsistent and unnecessarily Tea-flavored advocacy of HB 1153, a bill that opposes the adoption of national Common Core history standards for K-12 education. The bill passed House Education Monday in significantly amended and muted form, but it still makes South Dakota look a little silly for banning history standards that don't exist while embracing comparable standards from the same natioal coalition in math and English.

But everybody makes mistakes. I got the first signal that Jim Bolin might not be such a bad guy when English teacher and debate coach Leo Kallis said Jim Bolin is his friend. Just knowing Kallis makes you a better person; being rated his friend really improves your score in my book.

I can now point to clear legislative performance to say that Jim Bolin is a better legislator than his sponsorship of HB 1153 suggests. First I caught him on Statehouse last night speaking in favor of SB 71, a texting-while-driving ban of which Bolin is prime House sponsor. After Miss South Dakota Loren Vaillancourt's emotional testimony, Rep. Bolin came to the mic and offered a profoundly cogent Lincoln-Douglas argument as to why the value of public safety promoted by this bill outweighs the minuscule intrusion on the conflicting value of personal autonomy. (I guarantee, you'll never hear Bolin's fellow Republicans from District 8 make an argument that well.)

Then I heard the audio of Monday's floor debate on HCR 1004, our House's own symbolic (read: useless) vote against the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare). Rep. Bolin didn't treat the resolution as if it were merely symbolic. He argued passionately against PPACA, but he argued even more passionately against the resolution, which he views as a threat to the Constitution and the Union:

Repeal? Yes it is legitimate. Replace of healthcare? Yes it is legitimate. De-funding of health care? Yes it is Legitimate. Court challenge to healthcare? Yes it is legitimate. But Nullifcation? Never! No! We will not have nullification. I urge all members to stand for our Union, reject this resolution, and I say let the vote be unanimous. Thank you [Rep. Jim Bolin, floor speech, South Dakota House of Representatives, 2011.02.07, as reported by SDPB].

The vote was not unanimous: 42--26 in favor, but Bolin pulled a few Republicans with him to the Nay column.

Rep. Bolin and I disagree on health insurance reform, but he understands as well as I the dangers of the nullificationist sentiments running through our Legislature. That good sense prevailed on HB 1088, which would have written nullification into law. I hope Bolin's sentiments prevail at this morning's hearing on Rep. Lora Hubbel's truly dangerous health reform nullification bill, HB 1165.

I also hope Jim and I have the chance to sit down and share a pizza sometime. He's still wrong on history standards and probably a few other issues, but on value debate and the Constitution, he's got his poop in a group.