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February04

Education comm. amends, passes motto bill

After some debate, a bill permitting the posting of the national motto in schools passed committee.

 

Senate Bill 55, which allows public schools to display the national motto of the United States in their school buildings, was amended and passed by the Senate Education committee.

 

Initially, SB 55 required school districts to post the U.S. motto – “In God We Trust” – in a “prominent” location within the building in manner deemed appropriate “as determined by the school principal.”

 

Committee members voted 4-3 to amend the word “shall” to “may” in the bill allowing the school districts to decide on whether or not to post.

 

ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany introduced the idea of amending the bill.

 

“School boards know best,” Pogany testified. “There may be communities in the state that welcome this decision.”

 

“Let the school boards make the decision. They, their own communities, do what’s best.”

 

Sen. Phil Jensen, the bill’s prime sponsor, said the bill would “keep hope alive” in schools and did not see the possibility of a legal challenge being brought “as a problem at all.”

 

“That has not been a concern,” Sen. Jensen said. “It’s very unlikely we’d be sued.”

 

Sen. Wayne Steinhauer said the mandate on schools “could be very costly” despite the fact that proponents were not concerned with legal action being successful.

 

Pogany requested Senators consider an amendment that would “hold the schools harmless” – as ASBSD legislative resolution B8. Legal and Financial Protection for Compliance with State Law “supports a provision in law that would require the South Dakota Attorney General’s office to represent a public school district, should it face a lawsuit while complying with the state law, and indemnify the public school district for any financial liability incurred by the district rising out of the lawsuit.”

 

SB 55, which now heads to the Senate floor for review after the 6-1 vote in favor by the committee, does not currently contain a hold harmless provision. ASBSD is opposed to the bill.

 

For updates on this bill and other legislation, check the ASBSD BlogTwitter feedFacebook page and Bill Tracker.

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