Both the Times and the Leader-Courier ran front page stories Jan. 23 on House Bill 1057. Running a front page story on a specific bill has been a rare occurance in my 25 years publishing newspapers.
So why this bill? While the focus of the bill was on transgender youth, the key point is the bill, at first, targeted physicians and healthcare officials with a class 4 felony with a sentence of up to 10 years in jail. With a large medical community among our readership, I felt it was a relevant issue.
Another point was opposition from groups as diverse as the South Dakota Chamber and ACLU. Others, including the South Dakota Medical Association, Sanford Health, South Dakota Retailers and the Sioux Falls Chamber spoke against the bill in committee. Former South Dakota Attorney General Roger Tellinghuisen, representing the Human Rights Campaign, also spoke against it.
An additional issue is the legislative process. With issues of meth, nursing homes and farm income confronting our legislators, there seem to be many critical issues affecting the state. Yet HB1057, which would criminalize physcians’ actions, was one of the first to have a hearing that lasted almost three hours.
Of the nine who spoke in support of the bill, only one was from South Dakota. The others testified by Skype or telephone. All sixteen who opposed it were from South Dakota and attended the meeting in person.
One issue that came up was, is this bill really a test case for the courts? The legislature has had members in the past who feel that is their role.
The bill passed out of committee, 8-5, with amendments. Legislation that would make physicians felons is just bad legislation.
We all value our doctor relationship.
The story appears on page 10 of this issue.