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Senate establishes pornography interim study, passes signature removal bill

South Dakota Capitol
Brent Duerre

State lawmakers are heading toward a summer study on children’s access to pornography.

The move is a change from the original bill, which would have required a person accessing pornography online verify their age by uploading a government issued ID, or credit card information.

Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck is establishing the interim study. He said the old bill would result in a lawsuit brough by the ACLU that the state would lose.

“We need to know what the legislature can legally and effectively do,” Schoenbeck said. “without running afoul of the commerce clause, first amendment, or defying laws of gravity because the internet is world wide. We may find that what we need is the feds involved, or we may find we need a compact of multiple states lining up together. I think there’s some efforts like that already.”

Schoenbeck said the Attorney General should be involved in the summer study.

The Senate change requires approval by the House, which will take the issue up later this week.

Senators are also advancing a proposal that allows those who sign a ballot question petition to remove it if they wish.

Critic worry the original bill would complicate efforts to place ballot questions before voters.

Senators amended the bill, which requires those who request to remove their signature have it notarized and submitted before legal action starts.

Sen. Schoenbeck made the change. He said his change took the chaos factor out of the bill.

“Think about this. I file a challenge. Now we’re in court, and if you can still have withdrawals you’ve now made very South Dakotan that signed one of those petitions—and it’s not just the abortion issue, it would be any issue—you’ve made them an active participant in the litigation," Schoenbeck said. "Because you’re going to go around for the whole length of litigation and see if they’ll sign withdrawals. I don’t think our citizens want to have a counter petition drive knocking on their doors.”

The bill now heads back to the House for approval. The bill has an emergency clause, which means it will go into effect once the governor signs it.

That also means citizens cannot overturn the law by referring it.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.