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Chair: SD Lawmakers Made Confidential Request

December 12, 2011, 9:39 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Chair: SD Lawmakers Made Confidential Request
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The executive board of the South Dakota legislature has responded to allegations that House leadership wanted to be tipped off about bills before they were finalized.

Last week, six legislators sent a letter claiming that the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader asked the Legislative Research Council to give them confidential information about bills before they were public.

The chair of the legislature’s executive board has now sent those six legislators a letter back saying the information they are requesting to prove these claims is confidential.

The Republican lawmakers requested information from the Legislative Research Council about the communication they had with House leadership last session. It's an attempt to figure out if leadership asked to be tipped off about certain bills being researched.

"That does put it in the purview and jurisdiction of the executive board," vice-chair of the legislature's executive board Senator Joni Cutler of Sioux Falls said.

Cutler says the information being requested is confidential itself.

"The request is for confidential information and, because they are requesting what otherwise should be kept in confidence, that is a matter for the executive board to take up and draw some sort of conclusion about," Cutler said.

Representative Chuck Turbiville, the chairman of the executive board, came to that conclusion over the weekend, saying the information is confidential.

It’s now up to the six lawmakers who signed onto the letter to decide how they want to proceed with their claims.

But whether the claims are true or not, Cutler says she doesn't see what the advantage would be to having information on a bill while it's still being worked on because every bill in South Dakota is required to have a hearing.

"Any bill draft that a legislator offers has to come out and has to be brought out and made public. Those hearings are all public. There's nothing secret that anybody could do with information they would gain about a bill draft in the first place," Cutler said.

House Majority Leader David Lust of Rapid City, who is named in the original letter, said in a statement to KELOLAND News that he is, "Very surprised and somewhat disappointed that it (the complaint) is being pursued in this manner."

Lust added that he will sit back and let the executive board make its final decision on the matter.

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