PIERRE - South Dakota Democrats say it's inappropriate for the state to pay for lawmakers' membership in an organization they believe is a conservative group dominated by Republicans and large corporations.

Republicans say the American Legislative Exchange Council involves both parties, along with businesses, and is aimed at developing better policy.

The South Dakota Legislature's Republican-dominated executive board voted recently to pay the $50 annual membership fee in the organization for all 105 state lawmakers. GOP Sen. Deb Peters of Hartford says the lawmakers will benefit from interacting with legislators from other states.

House Democratic Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff tells the Argus Leader newspaper that taxpayer dollars shouldn't be used for the membership fees.

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