An open government bill was restored to something close to its original intent Monday, after being “crippled” by a House committee to keep it alive.
The Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday approved a bill applying open meetings law to committees and subcommittees of public bodies such as city councils.
Right now such subcommittees aren’t required to post agendas and admit the public if they don’t contain a quorum of the full body’s members.
The proposal was originally brought forward from the Open Government Task Force convened last summer by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley.
As the bill currently stands, it’s narrower than open government advocates prefer. But David Bordewyk of the South Dakota Newspaper Association and Daugaard adviser Tony Venhuizen, two members of that task force who spoke in favor of the bill Monday, said they believe they could accept it.
Venhuizen described the version passed by the House as “crippled” and asked the senators to restore its “original intent.”
The South Dakota Municipal League and the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners both opposed the bill.
Yvonne Taylor of the Municipal League said they believe there’s no need to subject subcommittees that don’t have sovereign power to open meetings laws. Doing so, she said, might discourage members of the public from participating in government.
The open meetings bill, House Bill 1108, now heads to the full Senate. If the Senate passes the bill, it will head back to the House, which can approve or reject the Senate’s changes.
Three other bills from the open government task force also passed out of Senate committees Monday, all unanimously and without change.