PIERRE | The House of Representatives fell one "yes" vote shy Tuesday of approving a major expansion of South Dakota’s open-government laws.
The vote was 35-34 in favor, but the measure needed 36 votes for passage. Rep. Scott Munsterman, R-Brookings, notified House members that he intends to have the matter reconsidered since one lawmaker missed the vote.
HB1113 would expand the definition of teleconference meetings of public bodies to cover decisions reached through text messages, emails and chat rooms.
The measure was one of the recommendations that came from a task force assembled last year by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley.
Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City, led the arguments against the bill Tuesday. She described it as “over-reaching” and said it would restrict informal follow-ups by text or email after a meeting.
Rep. Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka, called the bill “a solution looking for a problem” and Rep. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, said he couldn’t understand what the bill was intended to accomplish.
But House Republican leader David Lust of Rapid City said it was a first attempt at keeping open-meeting laws current with new technologies.
“We should be for openness, and that’s what this bill does,” Lust said.
House Democratic leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton said it was the most important recommendation from the task force.
“Should government be as open as possible?” he asked.
Rep. Ann Hajek, R-Sioux Falls, said the Minnehaha County Commission started following the same general policy nearly a decade ago when she was a member.
The House member who was excused Tuesday was freshman Rep. Lee Qualm, R-Platte. Thirty-one Republicans and three Democrats voted against the bill.
The bill narrowly survived its House State Affairs Committee hearing last week after Lust broke a 6-6 tie.