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SD House panel kills bill to open caucus meetings

PIERRE (AP) — A South Dakota House committee has defeated a measure to open meetings of the majority Republican Party that currently are private.

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The House State Affairs Committee voted along party lines 9-3 against the measure. Three committee Democrats supported it.

The measure's opponents say state legislators are already accessible to the public and their stance on issues apparent. One opponent adds that the bill unfairly targets Republicans, because it refers specifically to the majority party.

Supporters of the bill say it would have held legislators to the same open meetings standards expected of local governments in the state. They say full public access to meetings is good for democracy.

Legislators meet for about an hour with their party's caucus each day during session and often suspend floor action during heated debates to retreat into closed caucus meetings.

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