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Yay, Bicamerality! House State Affairs Kills Nelson’s Militia Amendment

The bicameral system proved its worth yesterday, as House State Affairs killed a goofy Second Amendment wedge measure that mostly coasted through the Senate.

Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) brought his Senate Joint Resolution 2 to House State Affairs yesterday morning. SJR 2 purported to fight the sexism and ageism (but not ableism) written into our state’s constitutional designation of all able-bodied men age 18 to 45 as members of the state militia. SJR 2 would have expanded the militia to include “any adult able-bodied person residing in the state.”

Senator Nelson spoke of the “disturbing revelation” that Article 15 Section 1 contradicts SDCL 33-2-2, which says the militia consists of both the unorganized militia and the National Guard, which allows women to serve. He mentioned the glorious gun-toting origins of our vulnerable and unorganized Republic.

No one came to speak in opposition, but the committee dug in. Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) asked if Senator Nelson saw any lawsuits arising from the apparent flaw in Article 1 Section 15. With no such lawsuits in existence and no one else in South Dakota concerned about it, Senator Nelson spoke of common sense and the need to keep the state constitution clean.

Rep. Latterell said he’s “not necessarily comfortable with having women on the front lines of the military” due to a constitutional provision mandating that women be part of the militia. He said he’s o.k. with women volunteering for service. He also said he didn’t want to clutter the ballot with this measure when there are other measures we should focus on. Rep. Spencer Hawley (D-7/Brookings), an old field artillery man, said he has no problem with women serving at the front line. Rep. Latterell clarified, saying he doesn’t have a problem with women serving in combat but is just antsy about the constitutional mandate.

And just like that, without any deeper discussion, the committee killed SJR 2 on a 10–2 party line vote. Democrats Hawley and Rep. Julie Bartling (D-21/Gregory) backed the resolution, while Nelson’s own caucus canned it.

Now I’m not saying House State Affairs killed this resolution intelligently. The lack of discussion suggests the vote against SJR 2 came on the orders of caucus leaders who hate Stace Nelson rather than on any serious evaluation of the merits of the proposal. If anything, SJR 2 would seem to have served one of the main criteria of SDGOP membership: maintaining A+ ratings from the National Rifle Association. SJR 2 would have put a gun measure on the November ballot and given the NRA a chance to rally South Dakota voters behind a measure that would make it even harder to pass any restrictions on gun ownership and carrying.

But put the political scheming aside, and we can see that keeping SJR 2 off the ballot was a good call. Our obsolete constitutional provision has never denied any South Dakotan membership in the National Guard. Our state has never called up the unorganized militia, let alone found itself hamstrung by the absence of 46-year-olds like me from the pitchfork ranks. And if Wyoming does invade, Article 15 Section 1 won’t stop any South Dakota patriot from grabbing a gun, piling into the nearest pickup truck, and kicking those interlopers off Black Elk Peak.

Sometimes one chamber puts a stop to foolishness that the other chamber lets pass. Given our Legislature’s proclivity for silly bills, we need as many opportunities to kill bad legislation as we can get. House State Affairs’ killing of SJR 2, superficial as it may have been, reminds us why two chambers are better than one.


  1. mike from iowa 2018-02-27 07:34

    He also said he didn’t want to clutter the ballot with this measure when there are other measures we should focus on.

    Focus on this, Buster. Your state gubmint is rife with corruption. From Obrien County, iowa I can smell the statehouse in Pierre. It stinks worse than all Mickelson’s Cafos combined. You had people, including children, killed and millions of dollars up and walked away with zero accountability.

    What is it going to take to get through to you in power? More dead kids?

  2. Richard Schriever 2018-02-27 11:32

    The SD Constitutional limitations to membership in the “well organized militia” cited as justification in the US Constitution’s 2nd amendment are what perturbs Nelson and his fellow ammosexuals. When push comes to shove on interpretation (key word here – interpretation) of the 2nd re: any future challenges as to the ORIGINAL INTENT of the framers in regard to the right to bear arms – such a CLEAR CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITATION to militia membership counters any “personal protection” argument. – CLEARLY.

  3. Dana P 2018-02-27 13:48

    Glad to see this nuttery of Nelson’s was squashed.

    Again, more waste of tax payer money, rather than spending time to really truly roll up their sleeves and work on honest-to-goodness issues that impact this state.

    I give credit where credit is due when Stace goes up against some of the corruption in Pierre. Good job! But his continued waste of time with this sort of stuff, is also a waste of tax payer money.

  4. jerry 2018-02-27 14:22

    I wonder how many bunkers surround the Nelson compound? He must not work on anything but filling sandbags and clearing fields of fire.

  5. Curt 2018-02-27 17:23

    Another victory for bicamerality – the Senate today killed HB 1199, G Markie’s effort to silence the united voices of university faculty in SD. The victories are small and not numerous enough, but nonetheless significant.

  6. Rorschach 2018-02-27 19:26

    I don’t know what’s worse: Sen. Nelson’s attempt to change the constitution for no good reason, or Rep. Latterell’s paternalistic attitude.

  7. Debbo 2018-02-27 20:07

    Cory said, “Given our Legislature’s proclivity for silly bills, we need as many opportunities to kill bad legislation as we can get.”

    That’s what SD has become known for, thanks to the SDGOP.

  8. grudznick 2018-02-27 20:20

    Given the legislatures proclivity for goofiness, we need as many opportunities to kill bad law bills as possible. Indeed! We need a tri-cameral legislature. Rs, Ds, and all you self-proclaimed Is. The Os, no, they don’t get a chamber in the legislatures. They have to stand on the outside, looking in.

    Three committees, three chambers, and the we let the Governor decide and he can veto the law bill which has to be overridden in 2 of the 3 chambers, or he can flip the vote of a given chamber. This seems balanced. grudznick rules, they will call them.

    Mr. Nelson will rise with fire and bellowing like a cow, and holler “Mr. President, I invoke grudznick rule G-7.3~” and all will scramble for their little books.

  9. grudznick 2018-02-27 20:25

    Maybe we let the Is and Os have a combined committee, but no chambers. There is no room for them. So they can have meetings in the meeting rooms. Combined. And we can just call them Os. Since Is and Ls and Cs are all Os anyway. They will sort it out themselves. Local party control.

    I have no doubt my good friend Bob will rise to be the chair of the Os State Affairs Committee. And then hell will reign.

  10. grudznick 2018-02-27 20:35

    We will not call this Tricamerality; we will call it Bicamerality Plus. Or Beefy Bicamerality. In the pubs around the town of Pierre they will whisper about the “fat legislatures” in fear, and tremble and cower at the the appearance of any member of the O committees. Who will all wear distinctive hats, to identify themselves, the hat styles appointed by the chair of the O Committee on State Affairs.

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