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Thursday, 09 February 2012 19:38
SB 119 Killed by Senate Committee - Lawrence Novotny
Senate bill 119, which would have permitted municipalities and counties to investigate discrimination based upon sexual orientation (SO), was killed in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee by a straight party line vote on Feb 6.
Several committee members offered their reasons for killing it:
• This bill would create a negative economic impact (example cited: Whenever a GLBT person is not hired or promoted, that person would automatically file a lawsuit claiming discrimination based upon SO).
• Believes South Dakota already accepts everyone based upon the current existing statute which lists sex, race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, disability, familial status, or national origin. (reasoning: It does not matter what a person’s SO is, that person already is covered by one of the other categories.)
• Has not seen any evidence of discrimination (A counterpoint that was offered to this was that since the state does not provide any protection, individuals cannot file a discrimination complaint.)
Senator Adelstein (R-Rapid City), the bill’s prime sponsor, stated that this bill uses permissive language, provides for local control, and provides protections.
Tiffany Campbell, ACLU lobbyist, gave 3 reasons to support this bill
1) it provides workplace equality
2) it provides job security
3) it will result in positive economic impact and greatly help with employment
Campbell also distributed copies of:
A statement of support from the Brookings Human Rights Committee
The Williams Institute census survey of South Dakota
Equality South Dakota’s top 38 employers list
Mitch Richter, lobbyist for Equality South Dakota, cited the example that the city of Omaha (which has a population of half of the state of SD) has had this language in place without any negative effects. Richter also stated that since SD is always pushing for economic development, this would be a good bill since companies want to attract a talented workforce.
Rev. Karl Kloger, with the Pierre Methodist Church, spoke in favor of SB 119 stating the bill allows exemptions of religious organizations.
Even though Sen. Adelstein had amended gender identity out of the bill, the lobbyist for Concerned Women of America, focused on the potty panic issue. She also was concerned that this bill would result in all employees being forced to attend diversity training.
The lobbyist for the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls spoke against the bill on religious grounds.
The lobbyist (who also identified himself as a pastor) for Family Alliance Action stated this bill would result in reverse discrimination and that the 14th Amendment already provides equal protection.
The Eagle Forum lobbyist stated she visited with a representative of the municipal league and county association and was told that cities and counties are not asking for this permission.
Sen. Adelstein, in his rebuttal, stated that this bill does not focus on bathrooms. It focuses on fairness in housing and employment and that the opposition is ridiculous.
Sen. Jim Bradford (D-Pine Ridge) was the only committee member to vote for the bill. He stated he has seen discrimination in action.
Sen. Shantel Krebs (R-Renner) hesitated before she cast her vote to kill the bill. (Apparently she knew what was right but was more concerned about re-election.)
Others who voted to kill the bill were: Sen. Jean Hunhoff (R-Yankton), Sen Reid Holien (R-Watertown), Sen. Bruce Rampelberg (R-Rapid City) & Sen. Todd Schlekeway (R-Sioux Falls).
To her credit, committee chairwoman Jean Hunhoff ensured that everyone was allowed to testify and that there was adequate time for questions. SB 119 was fifth on the committee’s morning calendar but when the hearings on the previous bills ran past noon, Hunhoff consulted with SB 119 proponents and re-scheduled the hearing for the afternoon after the Senate session ended (around 4 pm).