SD Legislature begins clarifying law on open-meeting noticesThe House committee on local government endorsed a beefed-up requirement that the notice must be “visible, readable, and accessible for at least an entire twenty-four hours” before a meeting.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — Legislators took the first step to close a gap in South Dakota’s open meeting laws Thursday.
The House committee on local government endorsed a beefed-up requirement that the notice must be “visible, readable, and accessible for at least an entire twenty-four hours” before a meeting.
The legislation, House Bill 1131, also would require the government body to post the notice on its Internet site if there is one.
The vote in favor was 10-1. The House of Representatives will consider the matter next week, possibly as early as Monday.
The South Dakota Newspaper Association is seeking the changes. SDNA executive director Dave Bordewyk said the open meetings law needs clarification regarding meeting notices.
Members of the state’s open meetings commission suggested in December that the current law needs changes.
The commission has handled disputes on several occasions in recent years, including cases involving Brown County and the city of Aberdeen, regarding interpretation of the 24-hour requirement.
“As my mama said, if you can’t see it, you don’t know. If you don’t know it, you don’t know it,” Rep. Burt Tulson, R-Lake Norden, told the House committee Thursday. He is the bill’s prime sponsor.
No opponents testified.
“The only thing wrong with this bill is my name isn’t on it,” Rep. Frank Kloucek, R-Scotland, said.
Rep. Shawn Tornow, R-Sioux Falls, disagreed. He said the proposal doesn’t meet disability requirements.
“That’s a point well taken,” Tulson replied.
Tornow said a notice can be torn down, blown off, fall onto the floor or have some other mishap and therefore wouldn’t be available for a full 24 hours.
He was the only committee member to vote against the bill.
Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, asked that government bodies be required to get the notices on their websites as soon as possible.