Opposition and threats of financial consequences were lower in the 2022 South Dakota Legislative session for lawmakers and Gov. Kristi Noem as they successfully passed a ban on transgender athletes participating in female athletics. Part of the political cover came from a collegiate athlete from Pennsylvania, who eventually became the first openly transgender person to win a national championship, awarded in women's swimming.
Open meetings advocates in South Dakota are increasingly concerned about new legal language that some government officials believe gives them the right to exclude members of the public from speaking or asking questions at public meetings. Recent school-related personnel incidents in Garretson and Rapid City have drawn attention to the willingness of public officials to operate without input from residents.
Supporters of a movement to improve education of Native American students in South Dakota suffered a setback when a proposed charter school measure was defeated in the state Legislature on March 2. But members of an expert panel convened by South Dakota News Watch say they will push forward on efforts to reform public education and create opportunities for better educational outcomes for Native students.
Standardized test scores and graduation rates remain stubbornly low for Native American children attending South Dakota public schools, but a new effort is underway to incorporate Lakota Indian language, history and culture into state-funded charter schools modeled on successful immersion programs elsewhere.
Vague and outdated laws regarding the disposition of corpses is causing high stress and expenses for families and funeral directors when a dispute arises. Lawmakers in South Dakota are moving quickly on a bill to clarify so-called "disposition" laws to make the process more clear and ease tension for families and funeral directors.
Education, protection of the elderly and upholding Indian history and culture are top issues in the overall agenda of Native American lawmakers during the 2022 South Dakota legislative session. Following bills filed by Native lawmakers and those related to Native issues is one way to see which issues are most important to members of South Dakota's Native community.
A pair of bills now under consideration by the Legislature would allow Native Americans from South Dakota to hunt, fish and visit state parks for free. Supporters of the two bills say passage would reduce financial barriers for South Dakota tribal families and be a show of reconciliation between the state and Indian tribes.
With the future of legal abortion in America suddenly uncertain, advocates on both sides of the issue expect a battle over access to abortion in South Dakota to be waged during the upcoming 2022 legislative session. While pro-life advocates expect to see strong legislation filed, pro-choice advocates are gearing up to protect a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.
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