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Odenbach’s Center for American Exceptionalism Fails to Get Two-Thirds Approval

Representative Scott Odenbach’s (R-31/Spearfish) attempt to create his own little Hillsdale College at Black Hills State University failed in the House yesterday, not because a majority of the House saw what a bad idea it is to use public resources to promote right-wing radicalism, but because Odenbach was in too much of a hurry.

House Bill 1070 would have created a “Center for American Exceptionalism”, a propaganda mill dedicated to the proposition that South Dakota students get too much thinking and not enough uncritical chauvinism in their civics education. The Center would churn out curriculum designed to promulgate the right-wing Hillsdale social studies standards that Governor Noem will impose on South Dakota students after her show hearings. It would also produce teacher indoctrination sessions and college courses teaching that commies always lose and capitalists always win.

HB 1070 actually won two majority votes yesterday in Crossover Day action. 46 Representatives approved of this plan and only 23 opposed. However, HB 1070 included an emergency clause to allow the state to dump $150,000 into this project immediately. Thus, HB 1070 needed a two-thirds vote, 47 yeas. All seven Democrats and a mish-mash of mainstream Republicans and radical conservativesjust barely held HB 1070 below the two-thirds threshold. Most notably, Odenbach’s neighbor  and SDGOP vice-chair Representative Mary Fitzgerald (R-31/St. Onge) voted nay on this little infusion of cash and crashness into her local university. Who knows: maybe Fitzgerald is just fishing for quiet thank-yous from sensible professors at BHSU so she can forward their names to the Regents and have them fired as America-hating socialists.

If Odenbach had left out the emergency clause and settled for waiting until July 1 to launch this project, his bill would be headed for the Senate. But thankfully, his false sense of urgency allowed his bad idea to die yesterday by one vote.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-02-23 05:54

    What a scary little town.

    Yes, Rand Williams purchased the former Passion Play site and was divinely inspired to erect a ferro-cement statue of a dead Jewish preacher on that ground seized after a treaty giving the land to Indigenous peoples was voided by Congress. Williams owns property all over western South Dakota and rents to Earth haters like John Dale. Dale joined fellow egomaniac Scott Odenbach who parachuted into Lawrence County expecting to change the good ole boy network Rand Williams actually helped to create.

  2. Nick Nemec 2023-02-23 09:04

    I’m surprised he didn’t move for immediate reconsideration and offer an amendment to strike the emergency clause, thus reducing the vote threshold to a majority of members elect (36). Does anyone know why this simple and regularly used tactic wasn’t used in this case?

  3. larry kurtz 2023-02-23 09:42

    Rep. Scott Odenbach, a Spearfish Republican, sponsored the bill and said he had consulted with the governor’s office and BHSU President Laurie Nichols about the bill. However, noone from the governor’s office, nor the South Dakota Department of Education, the Board of Regents, or even Nichols herself were present to testify in support of the legislation Monday morning.

  4. Donald Pay 2023-02-23 09:58

    I suspect he needed to forestall any referendum that would stop this nonsense in its tracks. It seems he didn’t have the ducks in a row on this.

  5. Mark Anderson 2023-02-23 10:01

    Just imagine any South Dakota student applying for advanced education elsewhere. Congress will have to make a by the bootstrap education application that is for the stupid, widdle, white, wed state. Otherwise those poorly educated in exceptionalism students won’t stand a chance in the real world. They’ll end up having to go to Hilldale. Ian could help them.

  6. larry kurtz 2023-02-23 10:46

    A center for truth and reconciliation in Spearditch would make far more sense.

  7. John 2023-02-23 17:12

    Excellent points, Larry.
    It appears that BHSU surrendered to SDSU – BHSU didn’t send recruiters to Crow Creek.

    SD colleges hit peak enrollment in 2019. The only hope the SD colleges have to stabilize or increase enrollment are: 1) if the US pulls its head out of its keester by increasing immigration, or 2) madly competing with colleges across the nation for a larger pool of foreign exchange students.
    The US demographic pyramid shows the US is missing 400,000/students workers in 2022. That shortage of US workers/students rises to 900,000 per year in 2034.
    The data reveal two truths: 1) wage inflation is with the US for a long time, and 2) many colleges and/or college programs are not going to survive.
    Politically the whining republicans will not increase immigration . . . so their corporations are baking in more than a decade of wage inflation and the closures of many small colleges.

  8. John 2023-02-23 18:02

    “American Exceptionalism” — what a pile of dung. The US is truly the “Accidental Superpower”

    Perhaps the only things that the US leads the world in are: 1) incarceration rate, and 2) military spending. The US forfeited its world leadership, gradually after Vietnam, then Iraq, then Afghanistan – with dozens of domestic failures along the way – most notably Reagannomics, which led to stagnant middle class wages for 45 years. History happens slowly, then all of sudden.
    Reflect on the author of “Caste”:

  9. O 2023-02-23 18:41

    Did support come down to happening now, in this year’s budget when it looks like there may bow dollars up for grabs instead of next budget when dollars are not known? Kicking the expenditure down the road may have lost the proposal votes. Just a guess from the cheap seats.

  10. MB 2023-02-24 05:22

    The irony right now is that the safest place to get a truly liberal college education without the state getting involved are private schools backed by ‘liberal Jesus”, you know, the one that encouraged us to love our neighbors and accept the foreigner.

    Both my girls ar two different private schools (that are surprisingly comparable in price to state schools) have classes available in all the ‘scary’ GOP banned topics and are still encouraged to use their brains rather than ‘fear of the other’.

  11. larry kurtz 2023-02-24 10:32

    Thanks John. The Black Hills region is already part of the American Redoubt and Scott Odenbach is tapped into the survivalist real estate boom.

  12. Dougy 2023-02-24 12:13

    black hills state did not support the bill

  13. ABC 2023-02-24 14:21

    Colleges inflate costs and tuition all the time.

    My $810 a year U of Minnesota education in 1978 is gone. Colleges and health care inflates because the legislators lack the balls to limit price increases

  14. JTS 2023-02-25 14:53

    Actually, the bill also required a 2/3 majority vote due to the appropriation of $150,000, per the SD Constitution.

    ARTICLE XII PUBLIC ACCOUNTS AND EXPENDITURES § 2. Contents of general appropriation bill–Separate appropriation bills. The general appropriation bill shall embrace nothing but appropriations for ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state, the current expenses of state institutions, interest on the public debt, and for common schools. All other appropriations shall be made by separate bills, each embracing but one object, and shall require a two-thirds vote of all the members of each branch of the Legislature.

  15. John 2023-02-26 08:26

    “American Exceptionalism” – malarkey.
    Spend the best 34 minutes of your February, maybe of 2023, learning the genealogical history of the Woodson family – teaser, it goes back to 1619. One side owned slaves. The other side started Black History Month.
    “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” — Carter G. Woodson
    Careful . . . luddites, its a “divisive topic.”

  16. John 2023-02-26 09:24

    “But if we deprive ourselves of history, everything is a surprise: 9/11, the financial crisis, the storming of the Capitol, the invasion of Ukraine. When we are shocked out of the everyday but have no history, we grope for reference points, and become vulnerable to people who give us easy answers. The past then becomes a realm of myth, in which those with power generate narratives most convenient to themselves.”
    Timothy Snyder, paywall:

    Noem, Odenbach, DeSantis, et. al are myth makers.

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