By Bob Mercer
Farm Forum Correspondent
PIERRE — The rule of 13 came into play on Feb. 8 for the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Needing a majority of seven, the committee was one “yes” short of recommending that chislic be designated as South Dakota’s official “nosh.”
The committee then went the other direction and tried to kill it. That roll call ended 6-5, too.
“We’re missing two people. We have to carry this over to next week,” Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, said.
Rounds had stirred the ashes beneath a bill that didn’t have anyone testify against it.
He called the legislation a “trivial item” and asked why not “tiger meat” that he said was popular in the northeastern counties, or popcorn balls from Kimball.
“We could go on and on with the nosh,” Rounds said. “We don’t have the time.”
Rep. Steve McCleerey, D-Sisseton, returned fire, saying Rounds’ comments were “a slap in the face” to agriculture.
Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City, in turn said “in my mind” the discussion already had wasted 25 minutes.
Rep. Wayne Steinhauer, R-Hartford, suggested in his role as committee chairman that the critics could help pass it and put it on consent and be done with the matter.
Even that wasn’t enough for Rep. Leslie Heinemann, R-Flandreau, to let go. “Why can’t we change it to jerky?” Heinemann asked.
Turns out he was serious.
Heinemann said the Jack Link’s jerky plant is 2 miles outside his legislative district. “Should I go on and on?” he asked.
Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, was the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 96. The Senate voted 22-12 for it. Nelson had Rep. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland, as the lead House sponsor.
That was a turnabout. Just months before, Nelson wanted Schoenfish to testify to the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee.
Nelson wanted answers regarding private audits that the Schoenfish and Co. accounting firm performed for Mid Central Educational Cooperative.
Instead, Randy Schoenfish, the legislator’s father, presented testimony.
On Feb. 8, legislator Schoenfish opened the testimony for the seemingly simple “nosh” designation.
“I can personally attest to how great chislic is,” Schoenfish said.
Then he saw the legislation spin off to a place few innocuous bills ever find. In the end, neither side had the votes. Next week the committee will gnaw on it again.
The deadlock brought to mind a comment that Tom Harmon, a lawyer long retired from the state attorney-general office, made in support.
“I’m not sure how you could be against this,” Harmon said, “unless you’re a sheep or a lamb.”
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