In more sound and fury signifying nothing, the South Dakota Freedom Caucus hooted and hollered last week about bills introduced at the request of the Governor and Executive Branch agencies, only to chicken out of doing anything about it today. Fraucus friend Representative Tony Randolph (R-35/Rapid City) had introduced House Bill 1081 last week to repeal the explicit permission SDCL 2-7-6.1 given to the Governor, executive agencies, and the Chief Justice to request bills. But today in House State Affairs, Representative Randolph said, just kidding:
A proposal to require that South Dakota’s governor, chief justice and executive agencies get individual legislators to introduce their bills and joint resolutions was set aside at its sponsor’s request Monday.
“It was something I was determining whether to do,” Republican Rep. Tony Randolph told the House State Affairs Committee.
The Fraucus evidently overplayed its hand. Contrary to the Fraucus cry last week, the Department of Labor and Regulation was not listed on the Legislative Research Council website or bill copies as the sponsor of HB 1011 or HB 1012. Both bills are labeled as sponsored by House Commerce and Energy at DLR’s request. The Fraucus claimed that the Governor and “her agencies” lacked “constitutional lawmaking authority,” but the Fraucus failed to cite any constitutional provision that prohibits anyone from requesting bills or that equates such requests with exercising “constitutional lawmaking authority”.
If the Fraucus actually read the South Dakota Constitution instead of just using “constitutional” as an adjective to amp up its complaints, its members would see that Article 3 Section 1, the initial grant of Legislative power to the Legislature, says “This section shall not be construed so as to deprive the Legislature or any member thereof of the right to propose any measure.” I would suggest that, absent some other explicit constitutional prohibition, the right to propose any measure includes the right to propose measures requested by DLR, the Chief Justice, the Governor, or any other little girl who likes fireworks.
Besides, a person or agency requesting a bill is not exercising any lawmaking authority. The requestor casts no vote in the House or Senate. Legislators are free to act on or ignore any request for a bill. Legislators may pass or kill any requested bill. The statute allowing specific government entities outside the Legislature to request bills thus infringes not one millimeter on the Legislature’s constitutional authority or the wise separation of powers.
The Freedom Caucus may like to talk a raucous fracas, but the fizzled folderol over agency-requested bills makes these right-wingers look like the squawk-and-balk faction.