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(SD)-Daugaard Signs Replacement Ethics Measures

By: John Axtell Posted at: 03/10/2017 02:55 PM
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a raft of bills into law Friday meant to replace provisions of an ethics initiative approved by voters but repealed earlier this session by Republican lawmakers who felt many provisions were unconstitutional.
 
     Daugaard, a Republican, says in a statement that lawmakers advanced "workable legislation" that meets the initiative's goals by creating a watchdog panel and limiting gifts to officials from lobbyists, but supporters of the original overhaul disagree.

      Doug Kronaizl, a spokesman for pro-initiative group Represent South Dakota, says "What the voters are being given is far weaker than what they demanded."

      Among his complaints is that the the gift limitation is "full of exceptions" while the watchdog panel doesn't come close to having the same tools and oversight as the commission the voters imposed.
 

     Here's a look at some of the new laws the governor approved:
 
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     WATCHDOG PANEL
 
     The new State Government Accountability Board will be able to investigate statewide officeholders and executive branch employees on allegations including bribery and theft of public funds. Under the measure, if the board believes a crime has been committed, the matter would be referred to state authorities. In other cases, the panel would have options including issuing reprimands or making recommendations to the governor.
 
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     GIFT BAN
 
     Daugaard signed a bill imposing an annual $100 limit on gifts that legislators and other public officials can accept from lobbyists. Starting in 2019, that value would be adjusted for inflation. A gift would be defined as anything of value given without compensation, but it doesn't include food, beverage or entertainment for immediate consumption, among other things.
 
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     COOLING OFF PERIOD
 
     The governor approved stricter lobbying regulations that bar many officials from private lobbying for two years after leaving state government, doubling the previous one-year prohibition. It applies to former elected officers, department or agency heads and other officials.


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