PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The governor’s attempts to keep critical race theory and political indoctrination out of South Dakota’s public universities and public schools moved forward Wednesday at the state Capitol.
The House Education Committee voted 13-2 to send a heavily rewritten version of HB 1012 to the House of Representatives in the morning, then came back in the afternoon to recommend a much-amended version of HB 1337 also proceed.
Representative Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, said he found convincing the support from South Dakota Board of Regents lawyer Nathan Lukkes for the critical-race theory ban. Lukkes told the committee the regents had already taken action last year.
“If they welcome it,” Deutsch said, “I don’t think we should vote to not welcome it.”
The bill doesn’t use the phrase “critical race theory” at any point in the language that would appear in state law. The phrase is in the bill’s title.
Representative Mike Stevens, R-Yankton, said the first section of the rewritten bill should be removed because it wouldn’t appear in state code, either. The committee agreed.
Representative Lana Greenfield, R-Doland, gave examples of two people in her life who told her about their experiences with academic racism. “I know it’s happening. I know it is not a fictional thing,” she said.
The late-afternoon work on HB 1337 left many on the committee and many in the audience confused at times
“I think it’s a problem looking for an answer,” Stevens said. His amendment to remove sections 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 passed on a 10-5 vote.
“This really deletes a lot of things that are important,” responded Representative Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls. “This is not a preventative measure. This is a measure to stop what is happening.”
The stripped-down 1337 ultimately passed 13-2.
Representative Will Mortenson, R-Pierre, said he doesn’t want what the bill forbids taught to his one- and four-year-old children. “In South Dakota, we always want to treat our students as equals,” he said.
“I think this is a win. This is a start,” said Greenfield, the panel’s chair.
“I don’t think it goes as far as we need it to, but it does do something,” Peterson acknowledged.
Greenfield said the bill would now move to the House floor. “I can hardly wait,” she said.