PIERRE | The 2016 legislative session was nearly historic in advancing government transparency. Here are the lawmakers who led the progress.
Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg, and Rep. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen: State law previously didn’t define a public meeting.
Now it’s “a quorum of a public body at which official business of that public body is discussed or decided, or public policy is formulated, whether in person or by means of teleconference.”
Senate Bill 73 also broadens a teleconference meeting to include the Internet.
Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, and Sen. Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton: Schoenbeck isn’t running for re-election but led a substantial change on public meeting notices for state government.
House Bill 1066 requires two intervening days, not counting the day the notice is posted and not counting the day of the meeting. This replaces 24-hour notice for state meetings.
Rep. Dan Dryden, R-Rapid City, and Sen. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen: This is one of those obscure changes that better protect taxpayers.
House Bill 1090 requires annual audits of insurance pooling arrangements involving state government or local governments and school districts.
The audited financial statements must be submitted to the state Department of Legislative Audit and published on its website.
The new law also says state auditors can examine the records.
Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, and Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford: Conflicts of interest would need to be reported by members of state boards, commissions and authorities.
House Bill 1214 also applies to board members, fiscal agents, officers and executives for school districts and other education organizations that receive money from or through state government.
Rep. Michele Harrison, R-Mobridge, and Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg: Neither is running for election but they leave a substantial improvement in the state legal code regarding open meetings.
House Bill 1218 calls for a municipal governing board to take an extra five days, and hold another public meeting, before final adoption, if a proposed ordinance was “substantially” altered at the second reading.
Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown, and Rep. Burt Tulson, R-Lake Norden: With Seante Bill 90, a person can’t be prevented from recording an open public meeting so long as the recording is “reasonable, obvious and not disruptive.”
Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, and Rep. Scott Munsterman, R-Brookings: The Legislative Planning Committee must review each state agency at least once every three years.
Senate Bill 143 also requires publication on a state website of six performance measures for each agency.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Lt. Gov. Matt Michels: They established in state law the Board of Internal Control to oversee standards, conduct and conflicts of interest within much of state government, state universities and state courts.
Senate Bill 162 also creates new standards for grant recipients and requires grant agreements to be published on a state website.
It also creates whistle-blower provisions.
But transparency would be set back in Senate Bill 159.
It would hide identities of insurance companies that receive state tax credits for funding tuition subsidies to help students attend non-public K-12 schools.
Sponsors are Sen. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, and Rep. Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City.
The governor sought a state Supreme Court advisory opinion on the tax credit but was turned down Friday. Now it’s his decision.
Enough secrecy already; it's time for more openness.