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SD panel moves to curb out-of-state money for initiatives

PIERRE (AP) — Republican lawmakers fighting out-of-state influence in ballot question campaigns are pushing to restrict the flow of money from outside South Dakota for the second straight legislative session.

The House State Affairs Committee voted 7-6 Wednesday to move the bill to the full chamber. It hasn't yet gone through the Senate, where the push died last session.

It would restrict out-of-state donors to $100,000 in contributions to a South Dakota ballot question campaign per general election cycle. Republican Rep. Spencer Gosch, the sponsor, said out-of-state money drowns out the voices of people in South Dakota.

"We have the right to govern our own state," Gosch said. "I think this is a huge concern of South Dakotans. They're tired of getting pushed around by big money that doesn't belong here."

The measure comes after out-of-state donors pumped more than $10 million into campaigns for or against South Dakota questions during the 2016 election cycle. Republican lawmakers in several states have complained about outside interests meddling with local laws.

But Republican Rep. David Lust, who opposed it, called the bill "big government," saying that it will be found to be unconstitutional. Experts have said such proposals are unlikely to survive a legal challenge.

A more restrictive ballot question sponsored by Republican House Speaker Mark Mickelson that would ban out-of-state fundraising for citizens' initiatives will go before voters in November.