PIERRE — Want the really bad news from the 2013 session of the Legislature?
Robo-calls remain legal for political purposes.
For a while, there was a glimmer of quieter evenings and weekends ahead. Restrictions sought by House Democratic leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton were temporarily added to a bill brought by Republican Sen. Mark Kirkeby of Rapid City.
But House Republicans led by Jon Hansen of Dell Rapids stripped away the robo-call restrictions and returned the bill to its narrower intent of financial disclosure by people behind the calls.
So it shall remain OK to bother citizens with the automated pre-recorded messages, so long as the politicians get a better idea who’s attacking them and their causes.
Now what about robo-driving, aka texting or calling, while motoring down road?
Beginning drivers are to be prohibited from using hand-held communications while on South Dakota’s streets and highways.
The ban applies to drivers under age 18 who hold instruction permits or restricted minor’s permits. Teens with a full operator’s permit won’t be affected.
The catch in the pending new law is that it’s only a secondary offense. That means the officer can’t pull the kid over for using a hand-held in plain sight.
But it does give parents the ability to say to their 14- and 15-year-olds: It’s against the law.
And it gives their 16- and 17-year-olds the ability to later say back: You’re not the boss of me anymore with my full permit.
Then there was the whole lack of definition of smoking.
Nothing came out of this two-month struggle over a couple of hookah joints in Rapid City and maybe another one or two elsewhere. The matter is headed to court.
Sen. Craig Tieszen, the retired Rapid City police chief, brought the legislation meant to restrict the hookah lounges.
He also was the lead Senate sponsor for the legislation meant to allow people busted with marijuana to claim medical necessity as a defense.
The prime sponsor of the marijuana defense bill was Rep. Dan Kaiser, R-Aberdeen, a police officer.
Now you see how reporters and voters get confused. Legislators weren’t. House members killed it.
While we’re on the topic of going in through the out-door, how about that proposed constitutional amendment that sought to require a two-thirds majority from voters to pass any ballot measure for a new tax, tax increase or tax extension?
Say that real fast three times. There seemed to be some logic in asking voters whether they want to restrict themselves in the same way they have restricted the Legislature on new taxes and tax increases.
Except there was an intriguing trap at the bottom of the amendment: If voters approved the amendment, the final paragraph said the two-thirds could be changed only by — get this — a two-thirds majority of voters.