South Dakota transparency legislation

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Transparency legislation proposed in South Dakota.


See also: South Dakota Sunshine Law

House Bill 1135: Authorizing Posting on the Internet

House Bill 1135[1] was introduced on January 29, 2009, and it seeks to authorize the state and any municipality, county or school district to maintain an official website.[1]

Senate Bill 143: Creating a Public Records website

Senate Bill 143,[2] proposed by Sen. Jason Gant (R-Sioux Falls) and signed into law by Governor Mike Rounds on March 30, 2009 requires the continued operation of Open South Dakota.[3] SB 143 requires the state to maintain a searcheable website that provides public access to the financial information of the state, municipalities, counties, school districts and other political subdivisions.[2]

Senate Bill 144: Requiring State Contracts to be Posted Online

Senate Bill 144,[4] proposed by Sen. Gant was signed into law by Governor Rounds on March 30, 2009. The bill requires all state contracts involving the expenditure of money to be posted online on the Open South Dakota website.[4]

Senate Bill 147: Public Access to Records

In 2008, the Better Government Association ranked South Dakota as 50th in the nation for transparency.[5] However, things began to around for South Dakota when Governor Rounds signed Senate Bill 147[6] on March 30, 2009.[7] Prior to the passage of SB 147, the prevailing presumption in South Dakota was that all public records were confidential with the burden of proof resting on a requestor to prove that he or should have access to a certain record.[5] Once the bill goes into effect on June 1, 2009, South Dakota will join the majority of states where the presumption is that all records are public unless specifically exempted as confidential.[5]

The bill lists approximately 25 specific types of records as exempt from ready disclosure. These include such things as medical and personnel records, litigation documents, the phone records and memoranda of legislators, and some financial information from private entities seeking to do business with the state.[8]

Reaction to the bill

SB 147 has garnered praise from the South Dakota Newspaper Association and the Argus Leader Executive Editor Maricarrol Kueter.[9] Kueter said: "The bill is a giant step forward in openness and would bring our state in line with most other states in transparency. Knudson has done an excellent job."[9] The editorial board of the Daily Republic have endorsed SB 147, asking "Who could vote “No” on Senate Bill 147?"[10] Meanwhile, Yvonne Taylor, an official with the South Dakota Municipal League, suggests that the bill goes too far, and that her group will support it only with exceptions built in.[11]