In the South Dakota House of Representatives, the controversial “school sentinels” bill to let districts arm volunteer defenders was assigned to — and passed out of — the House Education Committee.
But after it passed the House, it didn’t get sent to the Senate Education Committee.
Instead, Senate President Pro Tempore Corey Brown assigned it to the Senate State Affairs Committee.
Why there and not education?
“This bill has been in the headlines of every paper for the last two weeks,” said Brown. “Sometimes when there’s issues like that, it obviously has a lot of interest and a lot of weight and is probably more associated for State Affairs.”
The State Affairs committees include top leaders of both parties, letting them have a direct say on important bills.
Brown’s argument holds up on face value — it’s not like Brown sent the bill to the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee — but it’s not necessarily the whole story.
Aside from sending a bill to the committee whose expertise matches its subject matter the other — usually but not always unspoken — possible reason for a committee assignment is to affect its chances of passage.
Did Brown send House Bill 1087 to State Affairs in an attempt to bring about its passage — or, alternatively, its defeat?
Legislative watchers, is State Affairs friendlier or more hostile to school sentinels than the Senate Education Committee would have been?
Or is it basically the same and simply a matter of putting the bill where it most belongs.