At least four bills in the hopper will interest candidates, campaigners, and their treasurers:
Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission) offers Senate Bill 139 in hopes of banning lies from political campaigns. SB 139 would make it illegal to “make, publish, broadcast, circulate or cause the making, publication, broadcast, or circulation in any letter, circular, advertisement, poster, or in any other communication any false statement designed to affect the vote on any issue submitted to the electors at any election or relating to any candidate for election to public office.” Do so knowingly, and Senator Heinert and his Democratic co-sponsors Senator Craig Kennedy and Representative Michael Saba say you should get a Class 1 misdemeanor (one year in jail, $2,000 fine). Only do so “recklessly”—i.e., without reck, without heed, apparently without checking one’s facts—and SB 139 lets you off with a Class 2 misdemeanor (30 days, $500).
SB 139 is (a) sponsored by Democrats, (b) extremely difficult to enforce, and (c) an invitation to chill free speech (do I dare report any current information and publish any conclusions when new information may prove we were wrong?). Expect it to die in committee.
Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) leads a larger passel of Democrats in promoting Senate Bill 114, which tackles one very specific type of lie: sneaking around campaign finance limits by pouring money into your favorite candidate’s kitty under your kids’ names. SB 114 would count any contribution from an unemancipated minor toward the custodial parent’s or parents’ contribution cap on contributions to a candidate, PAC, or party.
One problem: toward which parent does Junior’s contribution count? Mr. So-and-So and Mrs. So-and-So can each give a Legislative candidate $1,000 each year. If Junior So-and-So gives a Legislative candidate $500, does that count against Dad, Mom, or split in half to each?
Representative Drew Dennert (R-3/Aberdeen) has solicited bipartisan interest in House Bill 1092, which does a simple little word switch to require candidates to file pre-primary reports even if they don’t face a primary but candidates in another party do. Clever!
Headed in the opposite direction from transparency are some of Representative Dennert’s more radical right-wing friends, led by Representative Steve Livermont (R-27/Martin). His House Bill 1097 would eliminate the requirement that campaign billboards, mailings, and advertisements include the disclaimer telling us who paid for them.
I’m watching for more campaign-relevant bills. Stay tuned!