SB197 passes the South Dakota House State Affairs Committee

PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) – Spouses of legislators would not be able to be private lobbyists under a bill passed this morning (Wednesday) by a House committee.

The House State Affairs Committee passed SB 197 9 to 4.

The measure has already passed the Senate.

Bill sponsor, Democratic Rep. Linda Duba (doo-bah) from Sioux Falls, said the restriction was “long overdue.”

“This bill is so a spousal lobbyist can’t leverage undue influence,” she said.

Another sponsor, Republican Sen. Michael Rohl from Aberdeen, said the bill does not restrict a legislator’s spouse from testifying on their own behalf.

He said that if he really wanted to influence a legislator, “I’d lobby the spouse of a legislator (who is a lobbyist).”

Mike Mueller (mule-uhr), the husband of Republican Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller from Rapid City and a lobbyist for S.D. Citizens for Liberty said the bill targets him and his wife.

“As a volunteer lobbyist, I receive no personal benefit,” Mueller said. “We the people benefit.”

He also said the bill abridges the First Amendment.

Mueller also wondered why legislative spouses who work for the executive or judicial branches of state government were excluded.

Republican Rep. Becky Drury of Rapid City asked if the bill would prevent lobbyists from running for the legislature.

Sen. Rohl said, “Yes, it works both ways.”

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.