PIERRE (AP) – South Dakota lawmakers navigated lower-than-anticipated tax collections to pass a lean state budget, capping a difficult legislative session dominated by the repeal and patchwork replacement of government-ethics regulations that voters imposed in November.
Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard spent part of Friday signing a raft of ethics bills into law before lawmakers closed out the main part of the 2017 session. The replacement measures captured the best of the voter initiative while "avoiding the worst," said Daugaard, who signed off on killing the overhaul last month.
The defunct ballot measure instituted a public campaign finance system, created an ethics commission and tightened campaign finance and lobbying laws. GOP lawmakers contended those provisions were unconstitutional. The embattled law wasn't in effect as Republicans were challenging it in court.
In its place, the governor signed proposals to create a narrower government watchdog board, impose less-strict limitations on the gifts that officials can accept from lobbyists and re-instate a two-year ban on private lobbying for many after they leave state government. Lawmakers have passed other ethics bills including a task force to study campaign finance.