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Is proposed state-meeting notice law easy as pie or hard as pi to compute?

PIERRE--A proposal moving through the Legislature calls for public notices to be posted for a longer period before state government public meetings. Current law calls for a continuous 24 hours for all public-meeting notices. State lawmakers are c...

PIERRE-A proposal moving through the Legislature calls for public notices to be posted for a longer period before state government public meetings.

Current law calls for a continuous 24 hours for all public-meeting notices. State lawmakers are considering adding two intervening business days for state boards, commissions and departments.

That sounds easy. What's complicated is how those two days would be calculated.

The legislation, HB 1066, says the calculation should be based on the system used by the South Dakota state courts.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, is a lawyer. He said the day that the notice is posted shouldn't be counted as one of the two intervening business days.

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Nor should the day of the meeting, he said.

Nor should Saturday or Sunday count, he said, because those aren't business days for state government.

Here's how he sees it working:

*For a meeting to be held on a Monday, the notice would need to be posted on the previous Wednesday.

*For a Tuesday meeting, the notice would need to be posted on the previous Thursday.

*For a Wednesday meeting, the notice would be posted the previous Friday.

*For a Thursday meeting, the notice would be posted Monday.

*For a Friday meeting, the notice would be posted Tuesday.

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The proposed change wouldn't affect cities, counties and school boards. They would remain under the current continuous 24-hours law.

The House of Representatives voted 66-0 Tuesday for the state-level change.

Schoenbeck said the state attorney general could take a different interpretation on whether the day of the notice shouldn't be counted.

"But once they decide, it will be a rote rule for all to follow, easily," Schoenbeck said.

Here's what the current state law-the one that would be used for meeting notices and agendas under HB 1066-says for computing days in court matters:

"In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by this chapter, by order of court, or by any applicable statute, the day of the act, event, or default from which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included.

"The last day of the period so computed shall be included, unless it is a Saturday, a Sunday or a legal holiday or, when the act to be done is the filing of a paper in court, a day on which weather or other conditions have made the office of the clerk of court inaccessible, in which event the period runs until the end of the next day which is not one of the aforementioned days.

"When the period of time prescribed or allowed is less than eleven days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays shall be excluded in the computation."

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Sen. Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton, is the lead sponsor for Schoenbeck's bill in the Senate. Hunhoff is not a lawyer.

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