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House State Affairs Kills 1210 with Minimal Debate, Does Nothing About Secret Meetings

Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) saw seven bills that he prime-sponsored killed this week, five in committee yesterday. Among them was House Bill 1210, which would have clarified that quora of legislative committees cannot meet privately, including via group texts and e-mails, to discuss, debate, or decide bills.

Rep. Hickey testified yesterday before House State Affairs that he has seen the message spread in private meetings of committee members that legislative leaders want certain bills killed. He testified (meaning it's true!) that some pre-hearing meetings even determine who will move and second the tabling or 41st-day-deferral of doomed bills. Rep. Hickey contends that such decisions violate Article 3 Section 15 of the South Dakota Constitution, which says "The sessions of each house and of the committee of the whole shall be open, unless when the business is such as ought to be kept secret."

Hmm... wait a minute: does that clause actually declare committee meetings open, or just sessions of the full House and Senate?

No one debated the state constitution with Rep. Hickey. No one testified in opposition. House State Affairs member Rep. Kris Langer (R-25/Dell Rapids) said the bill was poorly written, failing to specify who would report violations and who would decide what penalty. Rep. Langer also said HB 1210 as written would prohibit her from e-mailing superintendents to get information about a tech school bill and forwarding that e-mail to other committee members.

I would debate that point with Rep. Langer: forwarding materials from other sources to committee members could be construed as something less than "discussing, debating, or deciding" an issue on the committee agenda. It certainly is not the sort of organized bill-killing Rep. Hickey targeted with HB 1210.

But House State Affairs didn't need much more discussion or debate to make its decision. Rep. Roger Solum (R-5/Watertown) moved to table HB1210. Unlike the more usual bill-killing motion to defer to the 41st day, the motion to table, per Joint Rule 5.5, is no debatable, meaning we just call the votes—10–2, party-line vote, Dems supporting Rep. Hickey, his own GOP spurning him, in favor of tabling—and put HB 1210 away.


  1. MC 2015.02.12

    This a good thing. I know where the honorable representative was going on this bill. I have to agree with the motives, This bill was too broad.

  2. Nick Nemec 2015.02.12

    The fate of this bill was decided in the pre-committee meeting, committee meeting, the one the public wasn't invited to.

  3. Jenny 2015.02.12

    No, it was really probably decided in the meeting before the pre-comittee meeting of the committee meeting. Then even before that with texting.

  4. Steve Hickey 2015.02.12

    Six bills? What am I missing? I think it was only five. Kloucek's record is six. :-/

    Pretty hard smackdowns yesterday however like a wheeble whobble, I'm already back up today.

    Lots of progress on the death penalty bills, changed minds. I encourage everyone in our state on both sides of this issue to listen to the 2.5 hour debate. Two really riveting vantage points on this issue.

  5. 96Tears 2015.02.12

    Thank you, Steve, for your noble effort. Sadly, sleaze is a preferred condition in your caucus.

  6. Jana 2015.02.12

    Until they are willing to step up and rip the mask off of their secrecy, Munsterman, Gosch, Bolin, Langer, Solum, Wink, Haggar, Mickelson, Stevens and Westra all gave "We the People" a big middle finger salute.

    It seems that this session, more than others, reflects a contempt for the will of the people of the state and a strong attitude that they can bully their way to do what ever they want to do.

    I know the legislators above read this blog, please speak up and let us know why you think that the people's business should be done in behind closed doors. Tell us why you don't trust us.

  7. Jaka 2015.02.12

    Thanks Steve for your efforts! You are appreciated and I encourage you in your efforts to make the GOP a better servant of the PEOPLE-not the gop Party... Under God The People Rule. Ye other GOP that read this,,,, remember this.
    Thanks again, Steve.

  8. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.12

    I wish I was even mildly surprised. I am disappointed. You tried to do the right thing Hickey. Good on ya.

  9. grudznick 2015.02.12

    Young Mr. Hickey seems to be a fine fellow with his bills marked for some sort of targeted harvesting. There are some sick puppies in the legislatures who probably do that sort of thing just for fun.

  10. Paul Seamans 2015.02.12

    I have set in on committee meetings where the person that seconds a motion almost does that before the motion is even made. Oftentimes the committee has already made their decision before even listening to any testimony, they are just going through the motions.

  11. Kathy Tyler 2015.02.13

    Rep. Hickey is to be commended for his common sense approach to legislation and his devotion to the ideal that legislators represent the people in an open government environment. We may not agree on everything, but his testimonies in committee and on the floor this week showed a true legislator. Thank you.

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