BHSU Center for Exceptionalism shelved by SD Legislature

 (photo courtesy Black Hills State University)
(photo courtesy Black Hills State University) (KOTA)
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 3:27 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) - At least for now, the South Dakota House fails by one vote to pass a bill to fund the setup of a Center for American Exceptionalism at Black Hills State University in Spearfish.

House Bill 1070 failed 46 to 23, needing a two-thirds majority, 47 votes, since it included a $150,000 appropriation.

Republican Rep. Scott Odenback from Spearfish, the sponsor, said the center would examine what makes America great, how it has fallen short, and develop K-12, Native American, and college curricula comparing command and free enterprise economic and political systems.

Some opponents were concerned if the center would help tell the entire American and South Dakota stories of not just its successes but also of its mistakes.

Democratic Rep. Eric Emery from Rosebud, representing a predominantly Native American district, said he initially supported the bill in committee. However, he said constituents in Todd County were concerned about what Native American history would be taught and developed at the center.

Proponents said that the bill would help correct misperceptions about the United States that students might have.

“I am sick and tired of hearing about what’s wrong with America,” Republican Rep. Tim Reisch from Howard said. “Is America perfect? No. But compared to other countries, it is exceptional.”

After the House defeated the measure, Odenbach move to reconsider the vote.

Republican Speaker of the House Hugh Bartels eventually ruled that even with today being “crossover” day of legislation passing the house of origin, the legislative rules allowed reconsideration at the end of Wednesday’s House calendar.

Until then, the bill remains defeated unless a vote for reconsideration occurs, and then the measure receives two-thirds support of the chamber.