PIERRE - Some small but important changes to South Dakota election laws won approval Tuesday from the state House of Representatives.
The three bills head next to the Senate for consideration.
Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory, said HB 1003 "simply corrects an oversight" in a rewrite of campaign-finance requirements passed during the 2017 session.
The word "entity" was left out last year from the list of organizations that must report political contributions.
The pending change would put entity back into state law and the change would be effective July 1 of last year.
"We certainly want them to be compliant with the law in itemizing those contributions," Bartling said.
An emergency clause would make the legislation take effect immediately after receiving the governor's signature. The measure passed 66-0.
Rep. Tim Reed, R-Brookings, said HB 1004 ensures the state Board of Elections has authority to set the font and size of the type and overall size of the petition form for ballot measures being circulated for voters' signatures.
He said there was concern about sizes in "some of the measures" in past election cycles.
It passed 60-6.
HB 1006 would change the period for the Legislative Research Council director to make comments on proposed ballot measures, Rep. Kent Peterson, R-Salem, said.
One change would allow 15 working days. Currently the law says 15 days.
Another change states the director's written comments "shall include assistance regarding the substantive content of the initiated measure or initiated amendment in order to minimize any conflict with existing law and to ensure the measure's or amendment's effective administration."
A third change would affect the period for comments. The period from Dec. 1 through the final day of the legislative session would become in effect a blackout period.
The LRC director would have 15 days after the end of the session to report comments back to sponsors of measures.
"We thought this was a very good way to offer some clarity as they go through this process," Peterson said.
Bartling proposed an amendment to change the time frame from Dec. 15 to March 10 and allow the director "the latitude" to have 30 working days.
Otherwise, she said, it could "easily" be the end of June or July before measures cleared the attorney general and secretary of state and then go to circulators to start collecting signatures.
Peterson countered: "I think we've done a very clear job when we met this summer setting a parameter for them to work through," he said.
Peterson noted "the busiest time" for the Legislature's staff is Dec. 1 through the middle of March.
Rep. Susan Wismer, D-Britton, spoke in favor of Bartling's amendment. Wismer described the bill as "a good piece of work" but said it needed further change.
"More hoops to jump through, more exact time frame: The amendment loosens that up," Wismer said.
House Speaker Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, called for a voice vote. "No" was very loud from the Republican side of the chamber, killing the amendment.
The final vote was 64-2. Bartling and Wismer cast the nays.