I haven’t had much to say about the Legislature’s Democratic caucus this Session, since there aren’t enough of them to make much difference on the passage or defeat of legislation. But I can’t help noting that Democrats have missed a few chances to at least vote in protest of some of the Legislature’s bad decisions.
On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jamie Smith (D-15/Sioux Falls) joined all the Republicans on House State Affairs in gutting House Resolution 7001, the impeachment resolution that he co-sponsored, and putting off Legislative action against killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg indefinitely.
On Tuesday, Rep. Smith and four more of the seven present House Democrats voted for Senate Bill 123, which adds another 20-day delay to the initiative process that gives Democrats one of their only avenues to effecting progressive policy change in South Dakota. On Thursday, all three Democratic Senators—Foster, Heinert, and Nesiba, the latter two of whom are usually hawks on protecting the people’s petition rights—joined the unanimous Republican approval of this harmful erosion of initiative.
None of the Democrats had the courage to stand against Governor Noem’s hypocritical exploitation of Down syndrome kids and vote against House Bill 1110, even though the purported ban on abortions motivated by fetal diagnoses of Down syndrome unnecessarily interferes with women’s right to control their reproduction and adds an adversarial dimension to the doctor-patient relationship. House and Senate Democrats all surrendered to Noem’s emotional hostage-taking and radical right-wing posing.
It’s hard to be a Democrat in South Dakota and especially in the Legislature. But the super-minority position should also be liberating. Democrats have nothing to lose in chambers where their votes add up to single digits. They have nothing to offer but the consistent voice of radical witness against the one-party regime’s bad decisions.