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State legislature should stay out of pledge controversy

by Greg Belfrage

I'm a veteran. I love this country and our beautiful flag. I still get chills when the national anthem is played at sporting events. I have vivid and fond memories of saying the Pledge of Allegiance as a youngster in Sioux Falls schools. I often fly the flag at home. I think school children of all ages should recite the pledge daily.

However, I'd like to offer a few words to those state lawmakers who want to jump head first into Sioux Falls' debate over the Pledge of Allegiance... stay out of it.

I'm not going to recycle my previous comments on the pledge debate. You can read them here and here.

Republican Hal Wick says he'll introduce a bill requiring the pledge to be recited daily in all accredited K-12 schools, including high schools.  

Wick's bill would be a direct response to the Sioux Falls School Board's decision last week not to require the pledge in high schools.

It's one thing to disagree with the board's decision, as I do. However, it's quite another to march to Pierre and impose your own will on the rest of the state...forcibly overturning the decisions of local boards in the process.

Admittedly, the state legislature has an appropriate role to protect citizens when local governments are unable or unwilling to address the concerns of citizens. But that's not happening in the Sioux Falls School District.

The legislature shouldn't intervene simply because some lawmakers disagree with a local board decision.

The community has not been harmed. In fact, more kids are now required to say the pledge than prior to the vote.

The people of Sioux Falls are fiercely opinionated and more than able to hold board members accountable for their votes. We don't need Pierre once again muscling its way into an issue of local control.

I've met Hal Wick on several occasions and he seems to be a man of deep conviction and character. 

But let's be honest. Jumping on this pledge controversy is an easy way for lawmakers to make themselves look good.

How would any state lawmaker vote against such a measure without being vilified and threatened, as has happened to Sioux Falls board members? This is a Sioux Falls issue, not a cause for debate across the entire state.

We've got lawmakers at every level of government proposing bills the moment they see something with which they disagree. We live in the land of over-regulation. America doesn't need more laws and less local control.

We reported last week that Sioux Falls schools and board members were receiving death threats over last week's pledge vote. Might this be a time for cooler heads to prevail... rather than contributing to the chaos by grabbing more headlines with a legislative "fix" that usurps more local control?

The over-reaction to last week's pledge vote is bordering on the irrational. I'm sick and tired of all the knee jerk reactions, especially from politicians.  

If Hal Wick wants to impact Sioux Falls School District policy, he should quit the legislature and run for school board. His bill has no place in the statehouse.

Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.