SB68 clears House State Affairs Committee

PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) — A bill requiring non-returning South Dakota legislators to get permission from the legislature’s executive board to attend out-of-state conferences passes a House committee Monday.

Senate Bill 68 previously passed the Senate unanimously.

The House State Affairs Committee passed the measure on an 11 to 2 vote.

The bill stems from a legislative trip to Hawaii the former Speaker of the House, Spencer Gosch, and former House Minority Leader took in December with other legislators to a legislative conference in Hawaii.

Gosch was defeated in the 2022 Republican primary for Senate, and Smith, a Democrat, lost to Gov. Kristi Noem in her 2022 re-election race.

Proponent Rep. Hugh Bartels, the Republican Speaker of the House and a co-sponsor of the bill, currently decides if House members can go to an out-of-state event. In the Senate, co-sponsor Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the President Pro Tem, makes that decision.

Bill supporter, Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt of Sioux Falls, said the measure is about legislators’ accountability.

She said there might be times when a non-returning legislature might be suitable to represent the state at an out-of-state conference.

Republican Rep. Rebecca Reimer from Chamberlain, an opponent, said, “the more we fix things, the more they break.” She called the bill “reactionary.”

Legislators not returning to Pierre could be because of term limits or defeat in an election.

The measure now goes to the House.