It is no small feat to pass legislation through the state House of Representatives. It is even more of a feat to pass three bills through the House. That’s what Rep. Lynne DiSanto, R-Rapid City, accomplished this past week. House members voted 68-0 for her HB 1143 setting 16 as the minimum age to be charged with prostitution in South Dakota; it now heads to the Senate where the main sponsor is Republican Phil Jensen of Rapid City. DiSanto had to go through a rigorous debate on HB 1133 that would require schools to have policies for students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia; House members voted 50-18 to pass it along to the Senate, where Republican Lance Russell of Hot Springs is the top sponsor. It had several Democrats as House co-sponsors but the Senate co-sponsor list is strictly Republican. And then there’s DiSanto’s HB 1072 that would repeal the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a concealed pistol. The National Rifle Association wants this bill to pass, and it did in the House on a 37-30 vote. Russell had a similar measure that he asked the Senate to set aside after the DiSanto version cleared the House on Thursday.
Now it’s up to the Senate to decide whether DiSanto’s bill stays alive. Its top Senate sponsor is Russell. However, Gov. Dennis Daugaard has said he would use his veto to deter this bill from becoming law. Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber of the Legislature. That threshold is 47 in the House. So far the bill has only 37. There was minimal Democratic support for the bill, meaning this is really a battle among the 60 House Republicans. Even their leadership split, with House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte and House speaker pro tem Don Haggar of Sioux Falls voting for it; and House Speaker Mark Mickelson of Sioux Falls and House Republican assistant leader Kent Peterson of Salem voting against it. For the next month, this bill will continue to find headlines. But unless someone has a plan that will change the minds of 10 House members and change their votes from nays on the bill to ayes on a veto override, this bill won’t become law.