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February 9, 2003

Senator Jerry Apa
District 31
Legislative Post Office
500 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501

Dear Senator Apa,

I listened to your testimony before the South Dakota Senate body on 2/6/03.  You stated, “one year ago, this legislation was adopted…they (the UJS) came up with these protocols”.

This is not completely true and I believe you were misinformed.  This is the same information that David Braun provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

One year ago, the language in Section 2 of SB 60 was adopted, however, the UJS did not come up with the Standard guideline protocol at that time.  They made some minor changes to the existing guidelines at that time.  They were called “shared parenting” guidelines prior to this legislation and were the “unwritten law” in practice.  The parenting schedule in these guidelines has remained the same for a minimum of the past 8 years.

If you compare the standard visitation guidelines that were in place prior to last year's bill with the guidelines that the UJS had after July, 2002, they are essential the same.  Last year, Judge Max Gors, in testimony to the House Judiciary Committee noted these guidelines do not address shared parenting.  

The parenting schedule in this guideline is the traditional every other weekend and 1-2 visit per week.  Based upon other states and current developmental research, it is outdated and does not reflect the best interest of a child.  

The Legislative Body never saw or discussed the current standard visitation guidelines that were already in place at that time and clearly from your testimony, you were not aware there were already similar guidelines in place.

In my opinion, the legislature was hoodwinked last year and Mr. Braun is trying to hoodwink the Legislative body this year.  The Governor's Visitation Right's Committee developed legislation that gave a rubber stamp to the UJS to continue using these SAME guidelines already in place AND the guidelines became the Law as the Legislature and Governor empowered and strengthened the Judiciary ability to make the laws in South Dakota.  

I respect your right to oppose SB 60, however, I believe you should be more truthful or check out your information better before coming before the body in opposition to this bill on such a significantly important issue that has the potential to affect a minimum of 2,100 children in South Dakota each year.

I encourage you to view this particular page from our website: entitled: “THE TRUTH: FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR CHILDREN - SB 60 - 2/7/03” and the significant shared parenting information on our website, so that you have a better understanding on what we are trying to accomplish.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to call me.


Steven D. Mathis, president
The South Dakota Coalition for Shared Parenting

Cc:  Dennis Daugaard, President
        Arnold M. Brown, President Pro tempore

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