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Legislature expands lobbying ban to more officials and doubles length

PIERRE -- The ban against lobbying the Legislature would expand to two years and cover many more officials. The vote was 51-17. The legislation now goes to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his decision whether to sign it into law. Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Un...

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South Dakota State Capitol

PIERRE - The ban against lobbying the Legislature would expand to two years and cover many more officials.

The vote was 51-17. The legislation now goes to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his decision whether to sign it into law.

Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, called it "a big step." He said it is part of the response to Initiated Measure 22.

Republicans repealed IM 22 after voters approved its restrictions in the November election.

"Perception is reality to the citizens of this state," Rhoden said. "It provides assurances to the people of this state that we are listening, that we abide by their wishes."

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The current ban is one year and applied to elected officers. The legislation would double the ban to two years and apply to elected officers, department or agency heads, division directors and the highest paid employee reporting to those persons.

The bill, SB 131, came from Senate Republican Leader Blake Curd, of Sioux Falls. It didn't have any House co-sponsors.

Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland, asked what the problem has been. Rhoden said he could think of one or two examples in the 16 years he's served in the Legislature.

Rhoden said the main point is that the two-year ban reflects the perceptions of voters on IM 22.

Brunner said it really hasn't been a problem. He said many legislators came back after one year to lobby.

"I don't think it's been a problem for anybody," Brunner said. "I submit to you the one year is plenty."

House Democratic Leader Spencer Hawley, of Brookings, supported Rhoden's position. The legislation aims at people in leadership, Hawley said.

Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, called it "a solution looking for a problem." Rep. Larry Zikmund, R-Sioux Falls, said in his 27 years of involvement in state government he's never seen a problem.

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The Senate approved the bill 34-1.

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