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Drug Testing Poor, Vaccination Paranoia Fail in SD Legislature

Last updated on 2013.01.21

As the bad news rolls in about the South Dakota Republican Party's continuing war on teachers, I take small comfort in seeing our legislators having the good sense to whack at least a few bad ideas. I noted the demise of Wisconsin-style union bashing, home school handouts, and bad interstate insurance policy earlier; now I find two more bad conservative ideas that have all been deferred to the 41st day:

  1. HB 1174 was Rep. Mark Venner's (R-24/Pierre) measure to mandate drug testing of TANF and SNAP recipients. House Health and Human Services decided that poverty and a need for food assistance are not probable cause to suspect drug use. Reps. Hickey, Haggar, Jensen, and Steele really wanted to get their hands on poor folks' pee, but my gal Rep. Patricia Stricherz (R-8/Winfred) stuck by the least among us and joined the committee in a 9–4 vote to kill this bit of class warfare.
  2. Rep. Mark Kirkeby (R-35/Rapid City) wanted to join the fun in bashing the poor with HB 1268, requiring Medicaid recipients to submit to searches and seizures of their bodily fluids as well. Um, golly, Mark: if folks are on Medicaid, they probably are on drugs... drugs that we gladly pay for to help them get healthy and get back to work again. Say it again: being poor does not make you a suspect! House Health and Human Services took this bill out of contention as well, on the same vote split as HB 1174, with Rep. Hickey switching to oppose this bill and Rep. Munsterman, who perhaps had some experience providing chiropractic services to Medicaid patients, switching to support this intrusion on the privacy and dignity of the poor.
  3. Rep. Lora Hubbel (R-9/Sioux Falls) brought vaccination paranoia into legislative form with HB 1259, which would have let parents opt their kids out of vaccines for "personal beliefs." Rep. Venner offered similar immunization exemptions with HB 1175. Both have been drinking too deeply the dregs of that Michele Bachmann brew. Fortunately for all of us, House Health and Human Services affirmed the much more scientific belief in herd immunity and killed both bills.


  1. Rorschach 2012.02.08

    At the Sioux Falls cracker barrel last weekend, Rep. Jenna Haggar answered a question on the vaccination bills by saying that parents should have freedom to choose. I don't think she comprehended the irony in her own comments, but many in the audience did.

  2. larry kurtz 2012.02.09

    Jesse Abernathy: "Within the first year, the odds of a Native American baby dying increase by 50% in comparison to their white counterparts." @indianz

  3. larry kurtz 2012.02.20

    Tim Giago mentions Hickey Catholic Church/legislature/media cover-up of sex abuse bill at indianz.

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