Week Eight Recap
We addressed several interesting bills this week in the South Dakota legislature.
HB 1193 was a bill to amend provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code. UCC code amendments have historically been to streamline interstate commerce- a set of business laws regulating financial contracts and transactions across states.
The new amendments redefine "money" as whatever the Federal Government says it is. While proponents of the bill say that this has nothing to do with a move to Central Bank Digital Currency, many, including economists in South Dakota, disagree. CBDC would be a move to a new exclusive form of money, superseding any other agreed-upon currency means. This update would transfer sovereignty from the State of South Dakota to the United States Federal Government.
Any state which adopts its own revised UCC codes as the law will then be required to follow the mandates set forth by the Federal Government. Adopting the revised UCC codes will allow the Federal Government to criminalize any trade within South Dakota or without that doesn't involve CBDC. Additionally, CBDCs can accumulate sensitive payment and user data at an unprecedented scale. Data could be used to monitor private transactions, obtain security-sensitive details about individuals and organizations, and even steal funds.
CBDCs are "programmable," meaning that the administrator of this currency can, at will, determine what the money is being used for, dictate by whom and when, and limit where it is being used and how frequently. The administrator can also tell when it is not being used and program expiration dates on its use. This law would prevent people from trading by whatever means they choose and force them into trading only by the standards the Federal Government deems legal.
Remember, these amendments redefine the term "money." Does this lead us down the road of the social credit system established in China? A genuine concern given the social climate in the United States, where some believe others should be punished for beliefs, personal behaviors, religion, etc. For more information regarding China's social credit system, click here: https://www.businessinsider.com/china-social-credit-system-punishments-and-rewards-explained-2018-4
This also resembles the Environmental and Social Governance scores already used in the United States. ESGs are also troubling. They are an investment approach that lacks standardized criteria for what makes an investment sustainable. For example, ESG yields exclude fossil fuel and defense investments but prioritize sectors like green energy.
The implications of the amendments in HB 1193, buried in a 117-page bill, are too grave to receive an, "Aye," vote. One Senator pointed out that studies in law school on UCC require an entire semester and that it would be impossible for us to decipher all of it, and we needed to pass the amendments without further discussion or study. Troubling indeed. Some of this is reminiscent of President Franklin Roosevelt's proclamation formally suspending the gold standard- some say a first step to the $31 trillion in debt the United States now finds itself. Thank you to everyone who contacted the legislature to voice their concerns. Even if this legislation has nothing to do with CBDC as proponents claim (doubtful) there was no reason to bombast it through this session and tell legislators to "just vote for it." HB 1193 did pass but faces a potential veto and will need to be signed by the Governor before it goes into effect.
On Wednesday, March 1, I spoke to HB 1023 to make an appropriation for constructing a maintenance shop for the Wildland Fire Suppression Division in Rapid City and to declare an emergency on the Senate floor. This bill was a request from the Department of Public Safety for $1,325,058 for the design, construction, furnishing, and equipping of a new wildland fire shop/station in Rapid City. Over several years, the current station has been pieced together by seasonal labor and purchased item by item with the agency's supply budget. The current station needs to be bigger for maintenance of the fire engines- firefighters must pull the trucks outside to perform any upkeep or repairs- most of which occur during South Dakota winter, rain, and wind. A structural engineer and the Bureau of Administration's Office of Risk Management have documented structural and safety issues. Due to the outcome of this assessment, a loft area has been condemned, and firefighting equipment and gear stored in this area have been relocated. There is only one shower for males and females, and the electrical panel for the building is in the bathroom, located next to this shower. This space must be updated and brought up to code. The new station will include a large shop area to store and maintain fire engines, a briefing/training room, physical fitness space, gear storage space, bathroom and shower facilities, and office space. This project also includes funds to reconfigure and pave the parking lot. The station will be built on land owned by the state of South Dakota Wildland Fire Headquarters. This funding is critical to ensure we protect South Dakota from wildland fires. This has passed the House and the Senate; we will see if it is included in the final budget.
On Thursday, March 2, there was an attempted smokeout of HB 1116, An Act to prohibit the use of state resources in hosting lewd or lascivious content. For many, at first glance, they felt this bill was about unfair censorship. However, when digging into the bill's language, it is clear and does not impede First Amendment Rights. This bill had three main components.
1. Defining lewd and lascivious and prohibiting colleges and public schools from hosting events that feature nude or seminude adults or adults who remove clothing for the entertainment of one or more individuals (already in law).
2. Reaffirm the Miller Test, which was established in the Supreme Court case of Miller v California, which set a three-level 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 (lustful, shameful, morbid) interest;
- Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law;
- Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
All three of these factors would've had to be met.
3. Grant the Board of Regents and Board of Technical Education the ability to limit minors' attendance at campus events and give the Regents better guidance on regulating student-led events.
We find ourselves in a space where the Board of Regents felt they did not have the authority to limit the age group. This bill would have given them that authority and clear guidance on filtering content. The state already governs the attendance of minors at events, prohibiting them from bars and adult-oriented establishments. Local ordinances also regulate the location of adult-oriented businesses in regard to proximity to other types of public spaces. This legislation would've been an extension of those existing statutes. Ultimately, this legislation and its smokeout failed.
We also observed "Suits and Sneakers" Cancer Awareness Day, Homeschool Day at the Capitol and held our caucus party this week. Each year the Senate interns create a roast for the Senators and present us with awards. My award was a look-a-like award with the little girl who played "Cindy Lou Who" in the Jim Carrey live-action movie The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. So fun! HB 1220 passed in Senate committee and will be heard in the Senate Monday, March 6th. You can listen to the committee hearing here: https://sdpb.sd.gov/sdpbpodcast/2023/she32.mp3#t=4467 The legislature also welcomed a delegation from Taiwan, celebrating our sister state relationship. Each year South Dakota creates a concurrent resolution, here is an excerpt, "WHEREAS, South Dakota and Taiwan continue to share the same values regarding freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights..." for the entire resolution, click here: https://mylrc.sdlegislature.gov/api/Documents/Bill/248581.pdf?Year=2023
One more week remains! The debacle on the budget and where to cut taxes, how much, and for whom will be answered this week. Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 35.