Gov. Dennis Daugaard signs raft of ethics measures into law

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By JAMES NORD
Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a raft of bills into law Friday meant to replace provisions of an ethics initiative approved by voters that Republican lawmakers repealed this legislative session.

Daugaard, a Republican, said in a statement Friday that South Dakota officials advanced "workable legislation" that meets the initiative's goals. Supporters of the ethics overhaul say that the Legislature's replacements fall short of what the voters passed.

Here's a look at some of the new laws the governor approved:

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WATCHDOG PANEL

The new State Government Accountability Board will be able to investigate statewide officeholders and executive branch employees on allegations including bribery and theft of public funds. Under the measure, if the board believes a crime has been committed, the matter would be referred to state authorities. In other cases, the panel would have options including issuing reprimands or making recommendations to the governor.

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GIFT BAN

Daugaard signed a bill imposing an annual $100 limit on gifts that legislators and other public officials can accept from lobbyists. Starting in 2019, that value would be adjusted for inflation. A gift would be defined as anything of value given without compensation, but it doesn't include food, beverage or entertainment for immediate consumption, among other things.

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COOLING OFF PERIOD

The governor approved stricter lobbying regulations that bar many officials from private lobbying for two years after leaving state government, doubling the previous one-year prohibition. It applies to former elected officers, department or agency heads and other officials.

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REBUTTAL

Doug Kronaizl, a spokesman for pro-initiative group Represent South Dakota, said that the gift limitation is "full of exceptions." He said that the watchdog panel doesn't come close to having the same tools and oversight than the commission the voters imposed.

"What the voters are being given is far weaker than what they demanded," Kronaizl said. "We don't feel that (the initiative) was replaced."

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3/10/2017 1:47:26 PM (GM