PIERRE — Bills can face opposition from many sources in the Legislature — budget concerns, partisan bickering or moral objections.
Sen. Frank Kloucek ran into a different determined foe Thursday: cannoli lovers.
Kloucek, a Democrat from Scotland, saw his bill declaring the Czech delicacy kolache to be the state pastry go down to defeat in committee after senators expressed concern about fairness.
“My mother was born in Italy, and her father was a baker, and he made a mean cannoli, which is a pastry,” said Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead. “The miners at Homestake Mine for over 100 years were sustained by Cornish pasty, which is a pastry. For those reasons, I think there’s many more out there that would like the same claim to fame.”
Not to be left out, Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, spoke up for a traditional food from his ethnic heritage — the bagel.
“The bagel, that really comes from the Jewish ghettos of northern Europe, is much better known,” Adelstein said. “If we can’t have the cannoli or the bagel, why the kolache?”
A kolache is a bread roll with fillings such as apricot or poppy seeds inside.
Among more than 20 official state symbols, South Dakota currently has a state drink, milk; a state dessert, kuchen; and a state bread, fry bread.
Kloucek had pulled out all the stops to promote his bill, arguing it would promote economic development and handing out kolaches to members of the committee.
“In our state we have many avenues of economic development,” Kloucek said. “One is tourism with our ethnic culture.”
South Dakota State Historical Society employee Ken Stewart said Czech heritage is significant in South Dakota, especially in Bon Homme, Yankton and Charles Mix counties. But Stewart said Czechs don’t have the statewide reach of other ethnic groups such as Scandinavians.
“There aren’t a whole lot of Czech people in central South Dakota,” Stewart said. “They’re a regional group.”
But Sen. Ben Nesselhuf, D-Vermillion, said kolaches deserve to be recognized because of the relative enthusiasm of the Czech pastry’s supporters.
“I would be tempted to agree with Sen. Nelson if the cannoli folks showed up (to testify),” Nesselhuf said. “I don’t see a lot of folks out there fighting to be the state pastry.”
The Senate Commerce committee disagreed, and killed Kloucek’s bill 4-2.
But Kloucek said his efforts to make the kolache the state pastry aren’t over yet. He’s planning on using a parliamentary tool called a “smoke-out” to bring his bill to the Senate floor.
“It’s not dead yet,” Kloucek said. “This is only the first round of the kolache wars.”