South Dakota House fails to pass SB197

PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) – South Dakota’s House of Representatives defeats a bill this morning (Monday) that prohibited a legislator’s spouse from being a lobbyist.

SB 197 failed 24 to 44.

The bill had previously passed the Senate.

Bill sponsor, Democratic Rep. Linda Duba from Sioux Falls, said the bill was not targeting any specific legislator but closed an ethics loophole.

She said legislative staff sometimes don’t know how to treat a legislative spouse who is also a lobbyist, as spouses have special access to the chambers that others do not.

Rep. Duba also said the bill was designed to prevent conflicts of interest and financial gain.

However, opponents said the bill targeted Republican State Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (mule-uhr) from Rapid City.

Her husband, Mike Mueller, is an unpaid lobbyist for South Dakota Citizens for Liberty.

Both were involved in an incident with an LRC employee that the Senate censured Sen. Frye-Mueller for.

“What our good friend from Minnehaha County (Duba) is trying to do is to bring their dirty laundry over from the Senate,” Republican Rep. Liz May from Kyle said. “Don’t allow them to drag their mess here. These kinds of bills cause for a lot of hard feelings.”

May tried to amend the bill to have the measure apply to legislators’ spouses if they worked in any capacity for the State of South Dakota.

That amendment failed 13 to 55.

Unless “hog housed” to another bill or there is some other legislative maneuvering, SB 197 is likely dead this session.