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Bill Would Require Changes For SDHSAA

March 10, 2014, 6:09 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Bill Would Require Changes For SDHSAA

The South Dakota High School Activities Association may be required to be more open and transparent.

Representatives passed Senate Bill 90 in a committee Monday.  It would require SDHSAA to comply with the state open meetings and open records laws.

The bill passed with some changes designed to address concerns brought up by opponents.

Supporters say the bill will give the public access to information it deserves. However, representatives with the activities association opposed the measure Monday, saying open meetings and records laws address public bodies and SDHSAA isn't one.

In addition to requirements placed on public bodies, SDHSAA attorney Lindsey Riter-Rapp says open meetings and records laws also provide those bodies with some protections. She told representatives that Senate Bill 90 would extend the requirements to the activities association but not the protections.

"In my review of the statutes, given the terminology that's used and the way they describe it as public bodies, public entities, that the activities association would not receive those protections," Riter-Rapp said.

Pierre Athletic Director Dan Whalen serves on the association's board. He says the group's activities are already open and transparent and that the issue has already been addressed.

"We have placed that into board policy. As of our last meeting, we've passed a constitutional amendment stating the same," Whalen said.

However, supporters say a resolution passed by the SDHSAA doesn't hold the same weight as this bill would. Rep. Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, says this bill is for taxpayers because the activities association's members are schools.

"Every now and then an organization starts to look so much like a public entity that I think it's time for the legislature to step in and put some checks and balances in place that I've talked about to make sure we're adequately protecting the taxpayer dollars," Gosch said.

Steve Willard with the South Dakota Broadcasters Association says a more open SDHSAA could result in more participation from the public.

"With some of the subjects that are coming down the pike as far as the activities association goes, I think the more participation the better for everybody," Willard said.

Representatives amended Senate Bill 90 in committee Monday to extend open meetings/records protections to SDHSAA. Riter-Rapp says she still needs to review the changes before her concerns would be lifted.

Only one representative voted against the bill in committee. It now moves on to the House floor.

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