The only 5-day work week of this year’s session was completed today and in reflecting of the breadth and number of issues that the House of Representatives dealt with, it was a busy week.
Healthcare issues were reflected in HB 1080 and HJR 5004. 1080 was a very difficult piece of legislation as it dealt with prohibiting certain types of care for transgender minors in South Dakota. The use of puberty blockers, prescription of cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries prescribed to children before the age of 18 would be disallowed with the passage of 1080, and emotions were very high on both sides as more detail came forward with numerous testimonies. Physician testimonies ranged from claiming the proposed legislation “will intrude on the patient – parent – physician relationship preventing the application of evidence based medical treatment” to “the legislation not being needed because of the existing lengthy Standards of Care and assessment process applied to children seeking gender affirming care already being in place in South Dakota” to one pediatrician being “embarrassed” at the current care that the medical profession practices in this area. After nearly two hours of discussions, the House Health and Human Services committee voted to pass the bill 11-2 along party lines. Later in the week, the bill passed the full House 60-10. I voted in the majority basically because long-lasting medical decisions are best left for adulthood as is the case in other areas of law. To conclude, these kinds of issues are very difficult, and I understand the wide range of opinions and comments I have already received on this issue. This legislation is now off to the Senate where it will receive further scrutiny.
HJR 5004 was a resolution proposing that at the next general election, an amendment to our State’s Constitution be brought before the voters authorizing the state to impose work requirements on certain individuals who are eligible for expanded Medicaid benefits. The discussion on the floor did clear up some misconceptions about the measure as some interpreted the bill as enacting a work requirement program. In actuality, it just allows the state to implement one. As you know, the voters voted for Medicaid expansion last November and this measure allows the voters to weigh in on the conversation of a work component for persons eligible who is able-bodied. The resolution did pass the House on a 60-8 margin and now it goes off to the Senate.
Thank you for the honor of serving you in the House of Representatives and I look forward to hearing from you.