Representative Lee Qualm is confused. The Republican Majority Leader from Platte tells the press that he’s disappointed that social issues dominate the South Dakota Legislature:
“It’s unfortunate that it seems like the social issues just do grab a lot of air.” said House Majority Leader Lee Qualm, a Platte Republican. “It’s just the nature of the subject.”
But hot-topic issues can wear legislators out and take energy from other issues that are important but less controversial, said Qualm, who has introduced a bill that would stop schools and colleges from requiring students to get vaccinations. Some of the bills this session may represent a “backlash” to the liberal leanings of popular culture, he said [Stephen Groves, “Lawmakers: Social Issues Grabbing ‘Lots of Air’ This Session,” AP via The Hour, 2020.02.07].
Majority Leader Qualm recognizes the harm done by throwing all these stemwinding social issues in the hopper, yet he himself brings an anti-vaccination bill that his own party spin blog recognizes endangers public health. Reporter Seth Tupper reminds us that vaccines got rid of polio:
SD Rep. Lee Qualm has a bill to drop vaccination requirements. His birth year, 1954, there were 18,308 polio cases and 1,368 polio deaths in the US. The next year, the polio vaccine became available. Due to its widespread use, the US has been polio-free since 1979, says @CDCgov.
— Seth Tupper (@SethTupper) February 7, 2020
If Rep. Qualm really found these radical hot-button bills unfortunate, he’d act like a Majority Leader and tell his caucus to knock off the monkeyshines and get back to work. But he lacks the authority to wield that power when he himself joins the circus with an anti-vaxxer bill.