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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Committee Kills Bill That Would Allow Out-of-District Voting

Parents who open enroll their children in a school district are not allowed to vote in that district’s elections. Senate Bill 73 wants to change that, but lawmakers fear it creates more problems than it attempts to fix.

Senator Tim Begalka is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 73. He says he brought the legislation forward after concerns from one of his constituents who lived in Clear Lake when his kids started school. The family later moved out of the district and chose to keep the children enrolled at Clear Lake.
 
“This gentleman says, you know my kids all go to school there, that’s kind of where my heart is. And he says, it would be nice if I could vote in their school elections or even run for school board. When I thought about it I said you know, that kind of make sense,” Begalka says.
 
Begalka says since the education money follows the student, parents should have a say in school board elections, regardless of what district they live.
 
But opponents of the legislation say it creates unintended consequences. Dick Tieszen representing the Associated School Boards says Senate Bill 73 takes away local control of communities if out-of-district members could participate on school boards.
 
“They would be able to decide whether your school should opt-out, because before it’s taken to the vote of the people, your school board is going to  make a decision about whether they’re going to pursue that or not. They’d do that even though they don’t pay taxes in that district, even though they have no property, and even though they wouldn’t be affected by that decision. Their decisions would affect the lives of others, but not their own,” Tieszen says.
 
Members of the committee agree while the intent of the legislation is good it has logistical issues. The bill failed by a vote of 6-1.