AG: Legislature exempt from state's open meetings lawRep. Gene Abdallah, R-Sioux Falls, questions South Dakota's membership dues for a multi-state compact. A report shows the state has paid $190,000 in membership dues but saved only $64,000 on purchases since 2008.
SIOUX FALLS (AP) - No laws were broken when the South Dakota Legislature's executive committee voted in June to pay $95,000 in dues to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
The compact enables colleges and universities, school districts and cities in 12 states to share resources and collaborate on such things as computer software purchases to save money. State Rep. Gene Abdallah, R-Sioux Falls, questions whether the benefits warrant the expense.
"The state is short on money, and I see no reason to give $95,000 to an organization out of state that I'm not convinced has done us any good," he said in a media report published Sunday.
Abdallah asked Jackley whether the executive committee could appropriate the money, and whether the panel violated the state open meetings law because the item was not on its meeting agenda. Jackley said the Legislature is exempt from open meetings regulations and that Abdallah's concerns "are really policy decisions for the Legislature to address."
Abdallah has drafted a bill to repeal the state's membership in the compact without the required two years' notice. Compact President Larry Isaak said that has never happened before and he is not sure what action would be taken if South Dakota backed out.
Since joining in 2008, South Dakota has paid $190,000 in membership dues and saved $64,000, according to a November report. Supporters say it takes time for a state to reap the full effect of benefits. For example, compact records indicate that Illinois has saved $77 million since joining in 1991 and North Dakota has saved $2.9 million since 1999.