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SD Panel Strikes Down Collective Bargaining Ban

February 8, 2012, 5:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SD Panel Strikes Down Collective Bargaining Ban
PIERRE, SD - Lawmakers unanimously rejected a bill Wednesday that would have ended collective bargaining for public employees in South Dakota.

It was patterned after similar legislation in other states.

Lawmakers say South Dakota doesn't have the same problems as other states.

A move by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to end collective bargaining by public employees led to massive protests by unions and prompted one million voters to sign a petition to recall the Republican governor. The petitions were turned in last month and the recall effort is now underway.

But that outrage hasn't been seen in South Dakota's Capitol even though Sioux Falls Republican Brian Liss brought a bill to end collective bargaining. Liss was the only one to testify in support of the collective bargaining ban Wednesday during the bill's first hearing.

"The people who are involved in this are, often times, too scared to speak out because they know they're going to be targeted in their next election, and they're going to be replaced with a union supporter in the next election," Liss said.

Several people spoke out against the bill saying South Dakota union workers don't have a right to strike in the state and aren't causing the problems seen in other states.

"I've seen the problem of imbalanced power in other states, but the key word here is in other states. We don't have a problem here. It's a good balance," Watertown Representative Melissa Magstadt said.

"The only thing that I've seen what's happened is someone has watched TV and seen what they're doing in other states and thinks we should bring it forward in South Dakota," Brookings Representative Spencer Hawley said.

Lawmakers say if South Dakota's collective bargaining system isn't causing any issues, there's no reason for a bill that would ban those rights.

"The system in South Dakota is working extremely well, so I don't know why we have to try to go find a problem and then we'll give a fix to it," Hawley said.

That's why state lawmakers decided South Dakota isn't going to follow what other states have done.

The House Commerce and Energy Committee voted 13-0 Wednesday morning to table the bill, essentially rejecting the proposal.

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