I’ve had a couple people call this week and ask if they can use material from my blog in their discussions with others about various legislation. I’ve told them that’s more than o.k.; that’s one of the primary reasons I blog. I like to think that I’m creating a debate brief book for South Dakota—clearly not a complete one, since I never get to all the bills or issues, but at least something free, online, and searchable for anyone who wants to study up on a South Dakota policy issue and have a collection of articles, statistics, and fun quotes to use to help them make their point.
Now you’d think the folks who would make the most use of my material would be Democrats running for office or engaging in debate at the Legislature. But this week, Norman Woods of the conservative Family Heritage Alliance put the Dakota Free Press Brief Book to use. On Wednesday, Woods went before House Judiciary to testify against House Bill 1212, the bill to make clergy and dental hygienists mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse. (Jump to 1:03:00 in the SDPB audio.)
Woods admitted he felt like he was in the Twilight Zone has he came to the mic to speak “with support from Mr. Heidelberger.” He quoted this blog, saying that HB 1212 infringes “on confidentiality pastors owe their congregants…. Including clergy on the mandatory reporter list was a bad idea last year. It’s not any better this year. It still obliges clergy to violate confidentiality on the shaky basis of what courts will call hearsay.” Woods said that’s why I conclude (and he apparently agrees that) HB 1212 “is not an appropriate or necessary response.” (Darn—Woods left out my fun use of the word dragooning.)
Woods said it feels odd to make that point when we’re trying seek justice for kids. He promised FHA does not want to hide immoral activity, but in this case, we need to protect certain aspects of the faith.
Woods’s argument did not prevail in House Judiciary, which voted 9–2 in favor of the bill (both Democrats on the committee, Cwach and Pourier, went aye), but yesterday in the full House, HB 1212 went down 30–35. My two Aberdeen Representatives, Dennert and Perry, both voted nay; so did Aberdeen’s District 2 Rep. Weis.
Mine is an equal opportunity brief book. If you find the information true and useful, put it to work in your good-faith arguments.