Honoring the will of South Dakota voters

Published: Mar. 13, 2017 at 6:24 PM CDT
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The 2017 South Dakota legislative session wrapped up last week.

One of the most controversial moves was to repeal voter approve Imitated Measure 22 and replace it with a package of ethics bills.

On Friday Governor Daugaard signed several new ethics bills into law, but were lawmakers able to honor the will of the voters?

“I really felt that there were some important things accomplished,” Representative Karen Soli said.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they felt like the 2017 legislative session as a success.

As the governor signed several new ethics bills into law Friday, he agreed.

“In some cases, the package of bills does more than IM 22, in terms of more financial disclosure annually, in terms of protecting whistle blowers at local government levels,” Governor Daugaard said.

Demonstrators filled the Senate chambers and protested IM 22's repeal on February first, within weeks several bills were brought forward that embodied the intent of the initiated measure.

“Address gifts from lobbyists, which was the center of the television campaign, and so that aspect is addressed. Having a place to go to complain about executive branch employees or executive branch elected officials, I think this is a better solution than what IM 22 offered,” the governor said.

“It did push up the priority chain a couple of the ideas. Personally, I don't think they're areas that we've had problems with in South Dakota, but I think there may be a perception that we have a problems,” Speaker of the House Mark Mickleson said.

But IM 22 supporters don’t see this as an actual replacement.

“The provisions that have come through are by in far a lot weaker than what it is the voters demanded,” Represent South Dakota spokesperson Doug Kronaizl said.

On Friday the governor held a public bill signing to highlight the importance of Representative Karen Soli's bill, HB 1076, enacting the first ethics board for the executive branch.

“It only oversees the executive branch, the governor appoints the members of the committee that are then tasked with overseeing the governor’s branch of government,” Kronaizl pointed out.

But Soli is standing by her bill.

“These former judges to serve, I don't think we have anything to worry about with the governor appointing them. That was actually my choice in writing that into the bill,” she explained.

Lawmakers didn't propose any legislation to create publically funded campaigns.

Governor Daugaard says in a year with a budget shortfall, many didn’t think that idea would be supported by tax payers.

Legislators didn’t put any laws in place regarding campaign financing, but instead created a task force to look into that issue.