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LRC Fixing Website, Sharing Amendments Before 1057 Debate!

The Legislative Research Council is catching heck from all sides over the user-unfriendly features of its website updates. But true to LRC director Jason Hancock’s word

Hancock recently told the Legislature’s Executive Board, “it’s a work in progress” which brought a quick retort from one member.

“It’s work, I’ll give you that,” said Senator Troy Heinert [Patrick Callahan, “South Dakota Lawmakers Attempt to Go Paperless,” South Dakota Broadcasters Association via KSFY, 2020.01.21].

—the LRC is making progress. They appear to have fixed the primary complaint I lodged when 2020 bills started popping up: bills in HTML format now adjust their text to fit the screen rather than having a static width that spilled off the edge of most screens and made it impossible to read a single line without scrolling sideways. The LRC has also fixed whatever glitch was preventing easy selecting and copying of that text for sharing in e-mails and blog posts. They appear not to be consistently following one of the good new practices, hyperlinking bill references within bill text, but the line resizing and select/copy ability are significant improvements.

As the Legislature gets down business, we also get to see a new and immensely helpful feature take effect: the posting of possible amendments before committee! See, for instance, the odious House Bill 1057, Representative Fred Deutsch’s (R-4/Florence) much-hullaballooed yet divinely delayed bullying of transgender youth and the medical professionals who know how to help them. As HB 1057 heads for House State Affairs this morning (7:45 a.m., Room 414—and HB 1057 the only bill on the agenda), the citizens who will be packing the hearing room can already read three amendments that may be offered to the bill:

  • 1057A: drops the age for which certain medical procedures would be banned from 18 to 16 and excludes emancipated minors from the ban.
  • 1057B: reduces the penalty for providing certain banned treatments to transgender youth from a Class 4 felony (ten years in the penitentiary, $20K fine) to a Class 1 misdemeanor (one year in county jail, $2K fine).
  • 1057C: remove nurses, anesthetists, and medical assistants from the list of  medical professionals chiropractor Deustch seeks to tell how to practice medicine.

Now I’ve linked to the short “instruction” versions of each amendment. Alongside each one, LRC provides the amendment in context (see, for instance, 1057C) showing the changes in red amidst the full text of the bill. Having those amendments in both forms before the hearing gets started is a great service to legislators, lobbyists, citizens testifying in committee, and all of us watching and listening. Instead of begin surprised by a raft of amendments and not knowing exactly what changes the legislators are talking about or voting on, we can see the exact wording ahead of time, consider what the changes mean, e0mail our comments to our legislators before debate begins, and, if we’re in Pierre, prepare remarks to deliver to committee before the hearing begins.

Posting amendments early makes for more informed and inclusive debate. And in this case, the amendments to HB 1057 signal that the committee, if not Deutsch himself, recognizes that HB 1057 goes too far and faces serious heat. Each amendment waters down Deutsch’s proposal. There’s still no need for Deutsch’s harmful billmedical professionals know best how to take care of the children who come to them for help—And handful of mollifying amendments should not deter opponents from striking down in toto this useless culture-war exercise. But it’s nice to have these amendments ahead of time as a signal that Deutsch is on defense and that opponents can press for 1057’s total defeat.

The LRC’s website updates are a work in progress, and adjusting text and posting amendments before debate are definitely signs of progress toward a more workable and informative system of sharing bills with the public. The possible amendments to HB 1057 are a sign that Deutsch’s bill is also a work in progress—progress, we can hope, toward disposing of this vile distraction early and getting the Legislature back to solving real problems.


  1. Porter Lansing 2020-01-22 14:38

    This unconstitutional regulation of the L.G.B.T.Q. community has never been about preventing harm to anyone, but rather to eradicate and erase L.G.B.T.Q. people from the face of the planet … and that’s been Fred Deutsch’s driving motivation since moving to Watertown and infiltrating the lawmaking structure with hate.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-01-22 18:19

    Either that, Porter, or constantly poking the bear to stoke the evangelicals’ own persecution complex. Gotta keep those donations flowing….

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