Right-wing extremist Rep. Tony Randolph (R-35/Rapid City) seems interested in nothing but the culture war his party uses as a distraction from practical problem-solving. His three House bills this Session target porn, divorce, and abortion, and none in a helpful way.
Randolph’s abortion bill, House Bill 1251, is still an empty hoghouse husk… because, apparently, even he can’t come up with any new or original bushwah and oppression to throw at South Dakota women. We can only surmise that HB 1251 is a placeholder waiting to take up the war against women in case any of his party’s other tickets to Gilead fail and require quick revival.
Randolph fleshed out his other two bills, and when Randolph gives details, sensible legislators all run away. Randolph’s House Bill 1233, reviving the impractical concept of porngates, and House Bill 1236, recycling his desire to strip “irreconcilable differences” from the legal grounds for divorce, both went to House Judiciary yesterday and died.
HB 1233 was Randolph’s spin on a bad idea floated by his role model of Jesusy impracticality, former Rep. Isaac Latterell. In 2019, Latterell proposed porngates, mandatory nudie-pic-blocking devices attached to every Internet-accessing product sold in the state. The concpet includes requiring citizens to pay a $20 tax to deactivate the porngate on each of their devices. Randolph copied that failed proposal wholesale, lipsticking this pig with minor provisions to keep confidential the names of porndogs and libertarians asking Target and Midco to disable their porngates and requiring the Attorney General to report to the Legislature each year how much money the state was taking in on the new porngate tax.
As happened with Latterell’s version in 2019, the only people who wanted to speak in favor of Randolph’s porngates and porn tax out-of-state activists. South Dakota’s corporate lobbyists—Midco, AT&T, the Retailers, the Telecom Association—all told the committee that Randolph’s borrowed concept is unworkable. House Judiciary mostly listened to reason, killing HB 1233 on a 2–9 vote (the only 2 ayes for a new tax and restrictions on business came from Randolph’s fellow Republicans Rep. Sue Peterson and rookie Rep. Bethany Soye).
House Judiciary then turned its skeptical attention to Randolph’s other bad recycled idea of the day, House Bill 1236. Randolph tried last year to remove irreconcilable differences from our divorce statutes, because he thinks allowing “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce gives “relative truth” a foothold in our statutes and causes more divorce, unstable children, drug use, and suicide, and because he thinks forcing fighting couples to stay together will strengthen the bedrock of family values. His 2020 proposal got the thumbs down from House Judiciary. The committee’s differences with HB 1236 also proved irreconcilable, as nine members wisely chose the counsel of South Dakota’s legal community over the lonely proponent testimony of Randolph’s D.C. activist. (Rep. Aaron Aylward joined Reps. Peterson and Soye in their lonely backing of this part of Randolph’s folly.)
With his two main family-values foibles now properly disposed, Rep. Randolph can kick back and enjoy the rest of the Session, casting his reliable votes-for-Jesus on bills that don’t matter to our every day health and welfare, and doing what the Governor and the GOP caucus tell him on the rest of the agenda.