Whatever political game the Republican caucus is playing with sexual abuse of children, Governor Dennis Daugaard has said, knock it off. Yesterday Governor Daugaard announced that he would use a federal grant to allow the Jolene’s Law Task Force to continue its work to address child sexual abuse. On Wednesday, Republicans on the House State Affairs Committee killed a bill to fund that task force.
Jolene Loetscher, the Sioux Falls woman for whom the task force is named, cheers the Governor and allies who put good policy over the callous political gaming of the House GOP:
The Executive Branch will partner with the Department of Health to continue Jolene’s Law Task Force for another year. As Gov. Daugaard stated this morning, “This work is too important.” I am so incredibly proud and thankful for those of you that joined us in this fight for the children of this state. To the hundreds and possibly thousands that stood up to the ten Representatives who tried to stop our work, you showed the caring and compassion they could not.
My appreciation to all those who worked behind the scenes, including Sen. Soholt and to Gov. Daugaard. For those that live with the pain of child sexual abuse, may today bring the light of hope to brighten the darkness of hurt. Survivors do not stand alone. We stand together [Jolene Loetscher, press release, 2015.03.06].
House Majority Leader Brian Gosch (R-32/Rapid City) has said he and other committee members weren’t really killing the task force Wednesday; they were just putting process over practical results:
The Senate passed bill number 71. However, Wednesday a House subcommittee deferred it to the 41st day. Representative Brian Gosch who voted to defer it says he doesn’t think the bill should be forming a task force and should be going a different route.
He said in a statement to ABC9 News, “The decision on summer studies and task forces that are paid for by the legislature, through the legislature’s budget, are made through the legislature and the executive board, not individual bills. The idea might still have a chance and be part of a summer study if the legislature and executive board believe it to be a priority amongst other issues” [Allison Warren, “Woman’s Work at State Capitol on Hold, for Now,” KCAU-TV, 2015.03.04].
KSOO’s Rick Knobe doesn’t hear Gosch’s explanation as a rational reason for killing the sexual abuse task force bill. Knobe agrees with my assessment that the process argument advanced by Gosch and by Rep. Roger Solum (R-5/Watertown) in committee doesn’t square with Gosch’s and Solum’s and everyone else’s vote the same day to fund a new task force on elder abuse. Knobe says the Republicans who voted against Jolene’s Law should be ashamed, and voters should remember their names.
There is a crackerbarrel in Rapid City this morning at 9 a.m. at School of Mines. Perhaps Rep. Gosch and Rep. Mike Verchio (R-30/Hill City, another no vote on the sexual abuse bill and yes vote on the elder abuse bill) will be on hand to clarify this week’s strange doings in Pierre.
p.s.: South Dakota’s “guide to the inside baseball of South Dakota’s political scene” is loading too slowly to explain the baseball behind House State Affairs’ killing of SB 71… or an explanation of why we’re playing baseball at all with an issue this serious.