Rarely in legislature can it be said that the process is delightful, and rarely does a bill introduced purely at the request of one constituent make it all the way through the process. Last week I had the pleasure to experience both, and witness a brave young lady make South Dakota history!
Before session started, my friend Senator Brock Greenfield from Clark received a phone call from a young constituent in his district asking if she could meet with him and present him with a letter. When they met, six year old Hadley presented him with a handwritten letter:
Now when Hadley and Brock talked, He said “you know, there would be some concerned with allowing fireworks to be shot year around, explosions and so on and so forth all throughout the night” and she understood that, but he told her “I think I can work with you hadley, I think I can probably bring something so that you could maybe shoot some parachutes throughout the course of the year.”
So at the beginning of session, Brock asked for SB 161 to be drafted, with Brock as the Senate sponsor and myself as the House sponsor. The draft exempted several small fireworks, like sparklers, parachutes, snakes, and smoke bombs, but we tried to address some of the fire concerns, not allowing parachutes with a flare or traveling fireworks. We were presented with the initial draft, and hadn’t heard any concerns going into the hearing so we thought maybe everything was ok.
But when we showed up for Senate committee (Hadley testified herself with handmade note cards), opponents came out of the woodwork. It turned out this little six year old caused quite a stir amongst some of the interested parties in Pierre! So the bill was amended to remove sparklers, but still accomplish Hadley’s mission, passing committee and the Senate floor.
In the House committee, Brock and I, who would normally start off introducing the bill, didn’t hear the chair call the bill number for proponents. So brave Hadley, seeing the need, stepped right up to the plate with her note cards. I believe it was the first time in South Dakota history that a six year old gave the opening bill testimony before a committee. I also testified afterward, but her testimony was so compelling that I was careful to make it as brief as possible!
Often we get asked to introduce a bill or speak against something, and somewhere down the line we might hear a thank you. But this little six year old girl put pen to paper right away and was kind and gracious enough to send a note and drawing to each co-sponsor to say thank you. She wrote: “Thank you for writing a bill and bringing it to the floor. From Hadley”
She was a little optimistic when she wrote it, since we weren’t sure it would even make it out of committee. But thanks to her initiative and bravery, Hadley will now be able to chase parachutes with her cousins, who can only come visit her after the 4th of July.
In a humorous twist, my district mate Representative Otten sits on that committee and said thank you to Hadley, realizing that because they shoot parachutes after the 4th, his family really needs this bill to pass t00!