PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota House has approved a bill that would end collective bargaining at the state’s public universities.

The chamber voted 37-28 Tuesday to send the bill to the Senate. House Speaker Mark Mickelson, the sponsor, says the bill would strengthen the mission of educating students to “meet the needs of industry for tomorrow.”

House Majority Leader Lee Qualm says “unions promote mediocrity.” Democratic Rep. Ray Ring, an opponent, says removing the protections would make it “extremely difficult” for South Dakota to compete.

Union contracts cover more than 1,300 staff members at the state’s six public universities and at schools for the blind and deaf.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard supports the legislation. The Republican last year signed a bill banning collective bargaining at the four technical institutes in right-to-work South Dakota.