Education is a hot topic in South Dakota this Legislative session. Here's what bills we're watching.

·9 min read

The 2022 legislative session is sure to be rich in education-related bills.

Everything from “action civics,” prayer in schools and a multitude of building projects are on the table.

There's also the potential for an increase of 6% to state aid in education, which could spell more than $47 million more in FY 2023 than was budgeted for FY 2022.

Here are some of the hot-button education bills we’re tracking at the Argus Leader. Check back each day to see where they stand as we update.

Anti-trans bills

Two bills, House Bill 1006 and Senate Bill 46, have been introduced so far to prevent transgender women and girls from playing women’s and girls sports. Gov. Kristi Noem requested these bills, which she’s said will “protect fairness in women's sports,” but opponents of the bills across the state have criticized them as unnecessary and discriminatory.

Seven similar bills have been filed in the past seven years, but none were signed into law.

Trans women have been allowed to compete in women’s categories in the Olympics since 2003 and the NCAA since 2010. And the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s transgender participation policy has been in place since 2014 for K-12 students.

Status of HB 1006: Not yet on agendas

Status of SB 46: Passed the Senate on a 26-7 vote last week, and will be heard in the House State Affairs committee on Wednesday

More: South Dakota Senate passes bill banning trans women from girls' high school, college sports participation

More: Anti-trans sports bill clears first Senate hurdle with amendment

HB 1005 has also been introduced to restrict bathroom use based on sex assigned at birth. Four similar “bathroom bills” have been filed and failed in years past, with none signed into law.

The introduction of this bill by Rep. Fred Deutsch follows the passage of a clear gender equity and access policy in the Vermillion School District allowing students to use the pronoun, name and restroom they prefer which corresponds with their consistently-asserted gender.

Status of HB 1005: Referred to House State Affairs committee

Curriculum and culture

Noem also requested HB 1012, to “protect students from critical race theory,” and has drafted legislation limiting “action civics,” though no bill has been filed on about the issue yet.

CRT is an academic concept that explores how racism is embedded in legal systems and policies in the U.S. However, top education officials in the state have said CRT largely doesn’t show up in South Dakota’s content standards or curriculum in K-12 schools or colleges.

Noem’s “action civics” legislation, once filed as a bill, could prohibit colleges and schools from requiring students to protest or lobby as part of a grade, a class or for credit.

Status of HB 1012: referred to House education committee

Status of action civics legislation: No bill filed yet

More: Gov. Kristi Noem drafts bill limiting 'action civics' following similar bill weeks ago

CRT: Gov. Kristi Noem drafts bill to limit critical race theory education in schools, universities

Noem also requested HB 1015 to require a moment of silence in schools to begin the school day, meant to “restore protections for prayer in schools.” However, prayer isn’t prohibited in schools, and a leader of one of the state’s largest faith communities doesn’t see the need for the bill.

Status of HB 1015: Killed on a 9-6 vote in the House Education Committee on Friday morning

More: House education committee kills Gov. Kristi Noem's moment of silence and prayer bill

Related to school culture is SB 72, to establish the crime of hazing and provide a penalty therefore. As it’s written, reckless engagement in hazing or committing intentional acts of hazing would be misdemeanors; maliciously engaging in hazing and by that conduct causing serious bodily injury to the student would be a Class 6 felony.

Status of SB 72: Passed in the Senate Judiciary committee on Tuesday and will move to the Senate floor in the coming days

Education funding

So far, five bills have been introduced relating to education funding.

HB 1009, to revise certain provisions of the Higher Education Savings Plan Act, has moved to the Senate State Affairs committee.

HB 1040, to reduce the maximum property tax levies for the general fund of school districts, was tabled in the House education committee.

HB 1064 will be heard in the House Education committee on Wednesday. The bill directs the DOE to use the higher fall enrollment count from fall 2020 or fall 2021 when determining the amount of state aid to which the district is entitled.

HB 1080 passed in the House Education committee on Monday morning to prolong requirements for increasing teacher compensation and will move to the House floor in the coming days.

HB 1081, to add solar energy tax revenue to the calculation of local effort for state aid to school districts, was referred to House Taxation.

HB 1119 would count a district's number of homeschool students and multiply it by 10% to cover the cost of homeschoolers' participation in activities within the district. The bill sits with the House Education committee.

More: South Dakota school districts want funding to cover homeschool students' participation in sports

SB 59, to revise property tax levies for school districts and to revise the state aid to general and special education formulas, is supported by the state’s largest school district, Sioux Falls. The 6% increase proposed here is necessary due to current inflation rates, according to the district’s legislative position statement.

More: Will Gov. Kristi Noem's proposed 6% increase in state aid to education help increase teacher pay?

Status of SB 59: Passed in the Senate education committee and will move to the Joint Committee on Appropriations

SB 71, to revise the tax credit limit for the partners in education tax credit program, would increase tax credits to nonpublic, DOE-accredited schools from $2 million to $3.5 million in fiscal year 2023 and each year thereafter.

Status of SB 71: Passed in the Senate on Thursday, and will be heard in the House Education committee on Wednesday.

Policy and procedure

Sen. Jim Bolin has introduced two bills to update the procedures of two major boards that the Department of Education oversees, which are both sitting with the Senate Education committee at this time:

  1. SB 94, to include the chairs of the House and Senate education committees as nonvoting members on the Board of Education Standards

  2. SB 95, to limit terms on the teacher compensation review board to two years, not three; to make the board meet every two years, not three; and to have the board report its findings every two years, not three

Sen. Ryan Maher has also introduced three bills that could make some changes to local school board procedures:

  1. SB 104, modifying certain provisions related to school district elections

  2. SB 105, requiring renovation estimates on certain school facilities before replacement

  3. SB 106, requiring school boards to consult with law enforcement on the design of new school facilities

HB 1111 would make certain resolutions adopted by school boards referable to elections if the petition pertains to the health and safety of students and staff, for example. The bill sits with the House Local Government committee at this time.

Buildings and programs

The South Dakota Board of Regents announced eight priorities for the session at its December meeting. So far, seven of those topics have been introduced as bills:

  1. HB 1021, for the design and construction of an athletics events center at Dakota State University, passed in House Education on Monday and will move to appropriations

  2. HB 1022, to construct an addition to the Stanley J. Marshall Center and First Bank and Trust Arena at South Dakota State University, passed in House Education on Monday and will move to appropriations

  3. HB 1023, to demolish the Wecota Annex at South Dakota State University, was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations

  4. HB 1024, to repeal provisions necessitating self-support tuition rates at university centers, was referred to House Education

  5. SB 42, to add onto the Wellness Center at the University of South Dakota, is with the Joint Committee on Appropriations

  6. SB 43, to renovate and expand health science space at Black Hills State University-Rapid City, is with the Joint Committee on Appropriations

  7. SB 44, to demolish Briscoe Hall and the existing Lincoln Hall at Northern State University and construct a new Lincoln Hall, is with the Joint Committee on Appropriations

More: Regents say tuition costs to increase at South Dakota universities if Gov. Kristi Noem's budget passes

A bill has yet to be filed for the BOR’s goal to exempt university researchers from disclosing any knowledge they have of the commission of a felony, the knowledge of which they may have obtained in the course of and related to their research within the scope of their employment.

Another bill, SB 54, has been filed to appropriate funds for the DSU cyber program expansion and is set for hearing in the Senate State Affairs committee on Feb. 2.

Four more higher education projects have been introduced as bills: HB 1091, to build a year-round rodeo practice facility at SDSU; HB 1092, to make an appropriation for the precision agriculture cybersecurity CyberAg partnership at SDSU and DSU; SB 96, to appropriate $10 million to renovate labs in the Churchill-Haines building at USD; SB 97, so South Dakota Mines could purchase an incubator building.

There are also three bills related to technical colleges:

  1. HB 1031, to construct advanced manufacturing lab space and classrooms at Lake Area Technical College, passed in the House Education committee on Monday

  2. HB 1032, to construct an agriculture and diesel power lab and multi-purpose space at Mitchell Technical College, was first referred to House Agriculture and Natural Resources

  3. SB 61, to purchase simulation equipment for a health sciences clinical simulation center at Southeast Technical College, was referred to the Joint Committee on Appropriations.

And, HB 1047 has been written to appropriate more than $12 million to the DOE to improve and renovate the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, passed the House Education committee on Wednesday and was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: What South Dakota education bills are making the rounds in 2022?

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