Legislators Squabble Over Ethics Reform, Out-Of-State Funding
Republicans and Democrats both pointed fingers at each other during their press conferences Thursday January 26, mostly around the issue of the Republican backed attempt to repeal the ethics reform measure IM 22 by invoking a fast-paced emergency clause and introducing HB 1069.
While HB 1069 steamrolled through, Democrats along with two Republicans who crossed the isle, Lance Russell and Stace Nelson, planned to delay the process by enacting Legislative Rule 5.17, known as a '517'. Republicans, seeing what was about to happen, decided to enact the '517' delay themselves.
Republicans said the HB1069 repeal needed to be done quickly and suggested South Dakota Voters didn’t realize exactly what they were voting for. House Majority Leader Lee Qualm says voters were swayed by out of state money to fund advertising prior to the November election.
We want people to see and understand what South Dakota people can do instead of Massachusetts lawyers that don't have a flipping clue what goes on in this state.
Meanwhile Democrats say the rush for Republicans to repeal the ethics measure was a way to avoid conversations about it with constituents. A bigger picture of the degrading of the initiated measure process in South Dakota is a concern according to Democratic Representative Billy Sutton.
It's really a bad message to send. We were the first state in the nation that had an initiated measure process and essentially we're saying that we trust you to elects us but we want all the power and we don't you to be able to get things on the ballot.
Sutton responds to the issue of funding for marketing against IM22 prior to the November election:
There seems to be a big concern about dark money and outside money, but it only gets discussed when it benefits their topic and that's a frustrating thing to see because there was a lot of outside money spent in opposition to IM22 but nobody wants to talk about that.
Democrat Billy Sutton of Burke says the partisan behavior is an indicator of a state government out of balance.
Elections have consequences. When you elect a legislature where there are 29 out of 35 individuals from one party, this is what's going to happen. We need a strong two party system for checks and balances and that is not happening right now. I'm hopeful that in the future the voters will think about that as well.
Without the delay of HB 1069, the bill could have in theory been approved by the Senate with a signature by Governor Dennis Daugaard by Friday January 27th. With the delay enacted, the Senate will likely review the bill in the first few days of February.