In yesterday’s bad headlines, KELO-TV slugs Bob Mercer’s report on the narrow defeat of House Bill 1230, Rep. Erin Healy’s bill to add clergy to the list of mandatory reporters, with, “Clergy Members Shouldn’t Be Required to Report Child Abuse in South Dakota, House Decides.”
But clergy are required to report child abuse in South Dakota.
Required by God and Scripture.
Required by conscience.
Required by SDCL 22-11-12.
Just not required to report the undefinable and hard-to-enforce “reasonable cause to suspect” in our dubious and arguably redundant mandatory reporting law.
To her credit, the well-intentioned Rep. Healy offered an amendment to remove church staff from HB 1230. Requiring custodians, organists, and other church workers with no training in medicine, psychology, or other fields useful in diagnosing physical and behavioral symptoms of child abuse and neglect made HB 1230 unacceptable. But even with Healy’s helpful amendment, HB 1230 is better off dead.
In the 33–34 vote, Rep. Healy’s ten Democratic colleagues stuck with her and the bill. The nays were all Republican, including mostly honyockers and extremists like Goodwin, Greenfield, Haugaard, Latterell, Livermont, Pischke, Weis, and Wiese. Unfortunately, in this case, the Democrats were wrong, and the extremist Republicans were right. HB 1230 and the mandatory reporting statute are bad and redundant law.