PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Neither the governor nor the secretary of state want South Dakota legislators sticking their noses into legal challenges against state election laws.

But the high-level opposition didn’t stop a proposal from moving ahead Wednesday.

The Senate State Affairs Committee endorsed SB-116 on a vote of 8-0. Because it was amended at the suggestion of its prime sponsor, Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the new version of the bill won’t be considered by the full Senate until Friday afternoon, at the earliest.

Among those speaking against it were the governor’s legal counsel and the deputy secretary of state. The secretary of state office oversees elections in South Dakota, with county auditors responsible for running them on the local level.

Schoenbeck’s proposal calls for the Legislature’s 15-member Executive Board to be notified in the event of any lawsuit challenging a South Dakota election law. The board then would decide whether to become officially involved. The board would be allowed to contract for outside legal counsel. A lawsuit couldn’t be settled without the board’s approval.

The legislation specifically says, “(N)o public official or attorney representing or acting on behalf of a public official or the state has the authority to settle the action or consent to any compromise, decree, agreement, or judgment in connection therewith without first receiving the specific approval of the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council.”

It goes on, “The Governor, the secretary of state, or any other officer of the executive branch may not enter into a consent decree or other agreement with any state or federal court or any other party regarding the enforcement of election law or the alteration of election procedure without specific approval” of the board.

Katie Hruska, the governor’s legal counsel, said the governor’s administration, the attorney general’s office and the secretary of state “zealously fight for the constitutionality and upholding the laws this body passes” and that such a law would slow down the process and be unwieldy.

“I would say this is not an election-integrity bill. I know this body has dozens of those. I think this is far more impactful on how we manage litigation, and not about election integrity,” Hruska said.

Tom Deadrick, deputy to new Secretary of State Monae Johnson, said the legislation is too broad.

“It would give the Executive Board the power to intervene in any court case,” Deadrick said. “The second part is, I think it adds a question as to whether it violates the fundamental principle of the constitutional separation of powers. It would give the Legislature ultimate control over litigation, moving election law (and) election procedure, and allowing to dictate to other constitutional offices how to carry out their duties.”

Responded Schoenbeck, “You can do ‘the sky is falling’ all day long. This bill doesn’t do any of that. It’s got a simple intervention process. If a federal judge denies intervention, you’re not in. I can’t even envision a scenario where that would apply.”

Deadrick said the secretary of state’s office feels at times like there is a target on its back. Senate Republican leader Casey Crabtree assured him that’s not the case.

“There is no target from our caucus,” said Crabtree, who’s a co-sponsor of Schoenbeck’s bill, “just a desire to make sure elections are safe and secure, and that voters have the utmost confidence in those.”