Legislators from four districts in the Sioux Falls area met today to talk with the community about the issues being debated in Pierre.
The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown was full of coffee, lawmakers and discussion as voters ask questions about what is happening at the state capital during the current legislative session.
The majority of lawmakers agree with Senate Bill 46, aiming to make animal cruelty a felony in the state. But House Bill 1183, which would repeal the death penalty in South Dakota, has legislators taking different sides.
"I think an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, is really not what our society is. I believe in the sanctity of life, all the way through," Representative Anne Hajek said.
"I think society itself needs to have a place of final judgement on some things. The things I don't agree with what we're doing is that when we have litigations going on for decades," Senator Ernie Otten said.
Common Core education standards have been a hot topic in schools across KELOLAND, and that issue was the same today. Representative Manny Steele is in his 8th and final year for District 12. He says the standards in the schools aren't fair to students.
"By far the majority of the people who have contacted me by phone or email or texting they say they're opposed to common core because of what's happening to their children when they come home from school upset, crying, frustrated," Representative Manny Steele said.
District 9 Representative Paula Hawks serves on the education committee. She says she's heard parents on both sides of common core, but the teachers she talks with support the issue.
"The vast majority of conversations that I'm having with teachers is that the common core is pushing them to be better teachers. It's pushing education to be more rigorous. It's pushing kids to higher expectations, and I think that should be something everybody wants," Representative Paula Hawks said.
No matter the issue and what was said today, the debate will continue heating up in Pierre.
There will be other sessions on February 8, 22, and 28. Next week the legislators from Districts 10, 11, 13, 15 will be on hand to answer questions.
Here are some of the bills that were discussed at the meeting:
- Senate Bill 55
- House Bill 1183
- Senate Bill 46
- Senate Bill 128
- House Bill 1198
- Senate Bill 126
- Senate Bill 129
- House Bill 1011