…and Other HB 1069 Notes
But don’t think Represent South Dakota, one of the groups fighting to defend the Anti-Corruption Act, isn’t just a bunch of Democrats shilling for the SDDP. Represent SD’s Friday press release opens fire on a flurry of replacement bills, including the Democratically sponsored House Bill 1128.
Prime sponsor Representative Dan Ahlers (D-25/Dell Rapids) proposes to forbid legislators from voting on bills that involve a conflict of interest. HB 1128 says a conflict of interest exists when a legislator has a “substantial financial interest by reason of ownership, control, or the exercise of power over any interest greater than five percent of the value of any corporation, company, association or firm, partnership, proprietorship that is uniquely affected by the proposed legislation.”
Represent SD says nuts to that:
…HB 1128… sets a toothless standard for barring legislators with conflicts of interest from casting votes, and creates no consequences if they do so. It specifies that conflicts of interest for legislators exist only when they have a significant financial interest in an entity that is “uniquely affected by the proposed legislation.” This loose “uniquely affected” standard not only creates a huge loophole, but could likely be overturned by the courts for vagueness [Represent SD, press release, 2017.01.27].
I don’t want to see HB 1128 used as an excuse by legislators to repeal the full package of anti-corruption measures that legislators want. However, even if HB 1128 doesn’t have clear enforcement, it establishes a standard that voters can use to discourage legislators from voting in their self-interest.
HB 1128 has five Democratic sponsors and four Republican sponsors, including Senate Pro-Tem Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark). HB 1128 was introduced Thursday and awaits assignment to committee.
Related Reading: A Yankton Press & Dakotan poll promoted by Represent SD on its Facebook page (that’s how I found it!) shows opponents of the Legislature’s effort to overturn the Anti-Corruption Act outnumbering supporters 6 to 1:
*And arrogant? That’s Professor Burns’s word:
Former Political Science Professor Bob Burns says the emergency clause is unnecessary – and that’s not all.
“I view the legislature’s actions as humorous right now as an extreme form of arrogance,” Burns said.
Bob Burns has followed South Dakota politics for decades. In that time, he’s seen state lawmakers pass many laws, even after being warned that bills were unconstitutional and could lead to lawsuits.
Yet, when it comes to House Bill 1069, lawmakers aren’t willing to take a chance.
“You know, it may well be that the court in the end will find provisions to be unconstitutional, but to just arbitrarily declare it so, without a judicial ruling particularly by the South Dakota Supreme Court is certainly premature,” Burns said [“Political Scientist Weighs in on HB 1069,” KELO-TV, 2017.01.27].
But we know how Republican legislators feel about scientists.