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Lawmaker wants state law to order Pledge by schoolchildren

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A South Dakota state legislator says he will introduce a bill to require all schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day of class.

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The Argus Leader reported Rep. Hal Wick, a Republican from Sioux Falls, said the proposal would apply to all students in public and private schools.

Rep. Hal Wick, R-Sioux Falls  “I don’t like mandates for local government,” Wick said. But he added, “I think this is a spot where local government has lost its direction.” The 69-year-old Wick is a retired airline and military pilot. He said the proposal is a response to a vote Tuesday night by the Sioux Falls School Board that expands the district’s policy on the Pledge of Allegiance but stops short of requiring all students to say it.

“To think the school board would do something like that the day after Veterans Day ... it really disappointed me,” he said.

The school board decided that middle school students in Sioux Falls will be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance on a daily basis, but that mandate will not be expanded to high school students. That has upset some military veterans.

Board members said not requiring high school students to say the pledge is not meant as disrespect to military veterans.

The Pledge of Allegiance in schools has been the subject of discrimination and free speech lawsuits across the country. And in Florida earlier this year, a teacher was suspended for requiring one of her students to participate in the pledge.

Wick drew attention in 2011 when he unsuccessfully pushed a bill that would have forced every South Dakotan over the age of 21 to buy a firearm for self-defense. Wick argued that if the federal government can require every person to buy health insurance, the state can require every person to buy a gun.

Wick said he introduced that bill to make the point that the health care mandate is unconstitutional.