Saturday, November 26, 2016

On the other hand...

I admit my biases. I target Progressives the most because they work tirelessly to grow Big Brother and take away liberty. But sometimes the religious right rises up and proposes something stupid. I'm not going to spell out a lot of background here, so Google "bathroom bill" if you don't know what I'm writing about.

North Carolina passed a bathroom bill recently and has lost quite a few concerts and sporting events because of it. The NBA took its All-Star Game out of Charlotte even though the City of Charlotte passed an ordinance taking the "correct" side. In a state where basketball is king, the NCAA has taken its tournaments out and given them to other states.

In my state of South Dakota, the legislature passed a similar bill last session, but Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed it. His veto message steered clear of the emotionally-charged language used by both sides and addressed only practical matters:

"It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate. If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them. Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.

"Preserving local control is particularly important because this bill would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation. Although there have been promises by an outside entity to provide legal defense to a school district, this provision is not memorialized in the bill. Nor would such defense eliminate the need for school or state legal counsel, nor avoid expenses relating to expert witnesses, depositions and travel, or other defense costs. Nor does the commitment extend to coverage over settlement or damage expenses. This law will create a certain liability for school districts and the state in an area where no such liability exists today."

Whether the 2017 Legislature will reconsider a bill remains to be seen, but one proponent wants to collect signatures and get it onto the 2018 ballot. I'm guessing the Libertarian position would be to oppose such a bill on principle, but I'm opposed to it for purely practical reasons: Sioux Falls has a new arena to pay for, and as a city taxpayer I'm concerned it may not pay for itself if the state draws the ire of the NCAA and concert performers. What we have is a solution in search of a problem and two emotional sides waging a pointless battle that causes expensive collateral damage.

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