Townships could get open meetings exemptionPIERRE — Township boards are one step from final legislative passage of a bill that gives them a special exemption from South Dakota’s open-meetings laws, and that could come this afternoon in the state Senate.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — Township boards are one step from final legislative passage of a bill that gives them a special exemption from South Dakota’s open-meetings laws, and that could come this afternoon in the state Senate.
It would allow two or all three members of a township board to be together without declaring a public meeting if they were performing duties they had already approved as a board, carrying out administrative functions or doing fact-finding on safety conditions.
HB 1112 came out of the open-government task force last year and has already passed in the House of Representatives. Townships, road districts and third-class municipalities would qualify for the exemption. Dick Howard, lobbyist for the South Dakota towns and townships organization, said townships typically don’t have any staff. “So a lot of the work is done by the supervisors themselves,” he said.
What are administrative functions? That’s the question raised against the bill by Dave Bordewyk of the South Dakota Newspaper Association. He testified against the bill for that reason Monday in the Senate State Affairs Committee hearing. Tony Venhuizen, a top aide to the governor, responded they are duties that don’t involve discretion. That answer was good enough for Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, to join the other committee members to endorse the bill 6-0.