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Committee votes down bill prohibiting 'lewd' content on campuses


The House State affairs committee rejected a bill to prohibit lewd content on public university campuses.

HB 1113 would prevent state dollars going towards so-called “lewd” content on Board of Regents institutions.

Rep. Chris Karr brought forth a similar bill last year which failed. The Sioux Falls Republican said this year's bill addressed issues identified in the original.

"This applies to the Board of Regents. Last year it also included K-12, and there was some hang up on K-12, so the good representative from Aberdeen took that out," Karr said. "It uses a lot of the same language as far as definitions-at the end of those definitions, you’ll see the word 'prurient.'” 

That word, meaning having or encouraging excessive interest in sexual matters, was also a new addition to this year’s bill.

The 2023 bill was brought forth following complaints over a drag show at SDSU that was labeled "kid friendly."

Opponents claim the bill as written infringes upon first amendment rights. They also said similar legislation has been struck down in other states.

Democratic Rep. Erin Healy pointed to the subjective language used in the proposed bill.

“Lewd and lascivious content is vague and really subjective, and prurient isn’t defined either, and we heard that from other testimony," Healy said. "This type of speech, it shouldn’t be subject to what legislators like or don’t like on any given day. We aren’t here to legislate morals, we’re here to make good legislation.”

The Board of Regents did not testify on the bill.

The committee rejected the bill Wednesday on a seven to four vote.

Ryan is the local host of "Morning Edition". Originally from Iowa, he first came to the Black Hills to study at SD Mines. After graduating in 2019, he was an educator in Arizona and North Dakota before returning to the Black Hills.