PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Legislation that would have barred state government and K-12 school districts from funding or hosting lewd or lascivious content has been set aside at the South Dakota Capitol.
The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday voted 4-3 to kill HB-1116. The panel’s chairman, Republican Kyle Schoenfish, broke the tie.
Republicans Jessica Castleberry, Steve Kolbeck and Tom Pischke voted to pass it. Democrat Shawn Bordeaux and Republicans Sydney Davis and Tim Reed wanted it dead.
Republican Rep. Chris Karr brought the bill. It came in the wake of a drag show, where men dressed as women, at South Dakota State University last fall. The show was advertised as family friendly.
The legislation’s first paragraph said, “No state agency or institution under the control of a state agency, or public school district may authorize or expend public moneys or use any state-owned facility or property to develop, implement, facilitate, host, promote, or fund any lewd or lascivious content.”
Karr said schools were included because they receive state financial support.
The bill also would have allowed the state Board of Regents and the state Board of Technical Education to bar minors from any program or event. Those governor-appointed boards oversee South Dakota’s public universities and technical colleges.
The House of Representatives had approved the bill 60-10. It would have used a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Miller v California, that set a three-prong test for determining what is obscene:
“Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
Reed, a former mayor of Brookings, wasn’t convinced. “Everyone likes intellectual diversity, until they disagree with it,” he said, “and I’m afraid that’s what is happening here.”
Pischke responded by reading a definition of ‘prurient.’
“So if we’re going to talk about the dance team at SDSU, that certainly doesn’t rise to that level. If we’re going to talk about a play somewhere, that certainly isn’t rising to that level, unless it’s pretty bad,” he told Reed.
Supporting the bill Tuesday were its lead Senate sponsor, Republican Al Novstrup, and lobbyists for Concerned Women of America, the South Dakota Catholic Conference and Family Heritage Action. Opposing it were lobbyists from South Dakota Advocacy Network for Women, ACLU, Large School Group, Associated School Boards of South Dakota and School Administrators of South Dakota.
Four others — one supporter and three opponents — testified online.
Among the audience were two of its House Republican co-sponsors, Jon Hansen and Scott Odenbach.
Odenbach had sponsored HB-1125 that sought to add drag shows to the definition of events and material that can’t be provided to minors. A House committee killed it 7-5.
After the Senate panel finished Tuesday, both Hansen and Odenbach took to Twitter. Hansen noted that the school organizations had lobbied to kill Karr’s bill.
“What events do K-12 public schools possibly want to host—using taxpayer funding and resources—that appeal predominantly to “a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion!?” Hansen asked. “I think parents back home are going to be very surprised and appalled to learn of the alarming lobby efforts of the government schools in South Dakota…”
Odenbach focused there too: “Lobbyists purporting to represent SD’s: Large schools, school boards & school admin’s today helped kill HB1116 in committee. Parents & taxpayers should ask why & demand their schools withdraw from these groups.”