Panel Kills Bill To Review SDHSAA Social Policy

Feb 3, 2016

A measure that allows lawmakers to review the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s social policy is dead. Some legislators support House Bill 1111 as a means to regulate issues related to transgender students among other matters. The argument on the bill in committee centered on the whether the activities association qualifies as a state agency.

Opponents of House Bill 1111 say lawmakers shouldn’t review the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s rules that concern “major and significant social policy”. Association lobbyist Lindsey Riter-Rapp says that’s ambiguous, because people have different interpretations of what constitutes an important social issue.

“We make decisions regarding the age of the participants of the activities [in which they] participate. We make decisions about what grades the individuals must attain in order to participate," Riter-Rapp says. "We also have rules that govern the transfer of a student from one district ot another and the circumstances under which that person would be eligible.”

Riter-Rapp says lawmakers already pass legislation specifically regulating issues they consider critical to students.

State Representative Roger Hunt disagrees. He says lawmakers know what major social policy looks like when they see it. Hunt says lawmakers should review the organization’s social rules because the activities association is a state agency.

"What is being said here is ‘We’re doing alright. We’re listening to our members. We don’t need the legislature to come in and provide any sort of oversight.’ Every single government agency could make the same thing," Hunt says.

Some committee members say the South Dakota High School Activities Association does not fit the definition of a state agency. They say members join voluntarily and elect a governing board that isn’t appointed by state leaders, so the legislature cannot automatically review social rules.

State Representatives on the education committee killed House Bill 1111 by a vote of eight to five.