- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota lawmakers spent part of Wednesday in a packed committee room trying to agree on a resolution that has no force of law but would expresses the Legislature’s opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care reform.

Some committee members called the hearing a waste of time. But legislators, lobbyists and staffers crowded the room to witness the debate. Speaker of the House Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, ate popcorn and joked with fellow lawmakers before the hearing began.

Rep. Stace Nelson, of Fulton, sponsored the proposed resolution and objected to the Senate’s decision to take out language listing ways the state has complied with the Affordable Care Act.

The House and Senate then appointed negotiators to work out differences in the two chambers’ versions. The committee was unable to reach agreement and sent the measure back to the House and Senate with no recommendation, a move likely to kill the resolution.

Nelson, who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, said the resolution is important. He has introduced several resolutions this session, which some legislators have criticized.

“This country was founded, was freed with a resolution,” Nelson said. “Resolutions have an impact. Resolutions identify the will of the body.”

He said he did a lot of research on the state’s role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. His resolution chronicles the actions of the state relating health reform, including challenging the law’s constitutionality and accepting federal grants to implement it.

Nelson said the resolution shows that some GOP lawmakers have denounced “Obamacare” while allowing it to take root in the state.

Three representatives and three senators made up the committee. Only two members voted to reinstate Nelson’s provisions.

Republican Sen. Craig Tieszen, of Rapid City, also opposed changing or addressing the resolution. He said it’s “more about scorecards and postcards than it is about legislating in the state of South Dakota.”

Sen. Billie Sutton said he appreciated the passion behind the resolution, but it wasn’t a good time to address the issue.

“We have so many things that we need to be doing,” the Democrat from Burke said. “We have a long couple days ahead of us.”

The Senate was to revisit the measure Wednesday afternoon.

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