Governor names members of new midwives board

For state government’s new Board of Certified Professional Midwives, the picks from Gov. Dennis Daugaard are in. He appointed:

Autumn Cavender-Wilson, of Granite Falls, Minnesota, to serve until Oct. 31, 2018

Kimberlee McKay, M.D., of Sioux Falls to serve until Oct. 31, 2020;

Debbie Pease of Centerville to serve until Oct. 31, 2020;

Susan Rooks of Oral to serve until Oct. 31, 2019; and

Pat Schwaiger of Billings, Montana, to serve until Oct. 31, 2019.

The Legislature approved SB 136 establishing the board this year. Pease lobbied for its passage.

The thrust of the measure was spelled out in section 13: “For the purposes of this Act, the practice of a certified professional midwife is the management and care of the low-risk mother-baby unit in an out-of-hospital setting during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum periods.”

The prime sponsor was Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark. He is Senate president pro tem, the top presiding member of the Senate (the lieutenant governor is the Senate president under the South Dakota Constitution). The Senate voted 29-6 for it.

The lead House sponsor was the Rep. Lee Qualm of Platte, the House Republican leader. House members voted 52-16 for it.

The governor’s selection of someone from outside South Dakota was specifically allowed under the new law, which said: “However, until at least five certified professional midwives meet the residency requirement, the Governor may appoint certified professional midwives, who are licensed in this state, who reside in other jurisdictions to serve on the board.”

Past efforts failed in the Legislature. The 2016 measure, HB 1162, would have put the midwives under state government’s Board of Nursing. Its prime sponsor, Rep. Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids, got the bill through the House on a 54-13 vote but ran into a dead-end in the Senate where it lost 16-19.

The 2016 failing came after Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, amended Langer’s bill so that no licenses would be issued and the Board of Nursing didn’t have to establish an advisory committee until more than $20,000 had accumulated in a special regulatory account. Peters voted against the 2016 legislation. She was one of the six who also opposed the 2017 measure.

Tony Venhuizen, the governor’s chief of staff, said Tuesday there is what he described as “a chicken-and-egg problem” for the board’s initial appointments.

“The law requires a certain number of board members to be licensed midwives; yet, there are no South Dakotans who are licensed because it is the new board that will issue the licenses,” Venhuizen wrote in an email.

“The way to accommodate that initially is to rely on out-of-state licensed midwives to provide the input of members of the profession on the new board. This is why the board initially has appointees from Minnesota and Montana,” he continued.

“When Wyoming created its board, they had the same issue, and our appointee from Montana also served on the Wyoming board for the same reason,” Venhuizen said. He added that once the new South Dakota board has time to operate, and a community of licensed midwives emerges in the state, future appointees will be able to come from that pool.