S.D. Senate OKs state holiday for cowboys

Farm Forum

PIERRE — If the governor goes along, the fourth Saturday in July will officially become the Day of the American Cowboy across South Dakota.

It will be a working holiday. That means nothing has to close, and businesses don’t have to offer paid time off, but people can choose to celebrate.

Senators liked the idea. They voted 35-0 for it on March 5. The House of Representatives passed it 69-0 last month.

Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, was prime sponsor of House Bill 1184. Her lead sponsor in the Senate was one of the Legislature’s best-known cowboys, Democrat Billie Sutton of Burke.

Sutton is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair. His spine was injured in a 2007 bronc riding accident.

“This is just a way to acknowledge what the cowboy or rancher has done for our society throughout the years,” he said during the Senate’s consideration of the bill.

He took ribbing from Sen. Angie Buhl O’Donnell, D-Sioux Falls, who asked whether the legislation should refer to “cow-persons” and from Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, who wondered whether he considered naming it Day of the American Cowgirl.

Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, and Soholt voted against the bill — and then declared their switches to ayes just before the secretary announced the tally.

That drew a quip from the Senate president. “Flipper was a cowboy, too,” Lt. Gov. Matt Michels told them.

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