Ken Santema lists the sixteen bills before the South Dakota Senate today and the thirty-five bills before the House, the last day for bills to pass the second chamber. Among them are six hoghouse vehicles, whose absurdly empty current text I quote in full:
- House Bill 1169 and Senate Bill 141: “In case a title affecting medical services or the ordinary operating expenses of South Dakota is needed to accommodate the legislative process, this bill is being introduced to accomplish that purpose.”
- House Bill 1170 and Senate Bill 140: “In case a title affecting education or the ordinary operating expenses of South Dakota is needed to accommodate the legislative process, this bill is being introduced to accomplish that purpose.”
- House Bill 1171 and Senate Bill 142: “The Legislature shall pursue opportunities to enhance the state.”
These six bills have advanced throughtwo committee hearings and one floor debate with little dissent. Rep. Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Watertown) did join a generally Mugwumpy conservative minority in voting against the shell House bills on the House floor. Now each chamber has a chance to amend and pass these bills and send them to conference committee, where six legislators may craft legislation without any public testimony.
I like the hoghouse rule… mostly because of the name and its uniqueness to South Dakota, but also because I can imagine scenarios in which some unexpected situation or really good idea may arise and justify commandeering and radically amending an existing bill.
But these six hoghouse vehicles affront the public’s right to government transparency. If sponsors Rep. Westra and Senator Lederman have legislation to propose, it should have been on the table by February 3, along with everyone else’s legislation, so the public could read, study, and mobilize in favor or against those bills.
Westra and Lederman haven’t done their homework on time. The Senate and House today should not accept their late work, let alone give them any more extensions. Senators and Representatives should vote on principle to kill these hoghouse vehicle bills and tell Westra and Lederman to try again next year.