PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A panel recommended Tuesday the South Dakota Legislature should stay the course and go all-electronic this session.
But there’s now a safety valve proposed too, in case the Legislative Research Council computer system doesn’t work or runs slowly.
In those situations, the presiding officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives could put lawmakers back onto the old-style paper trail.
The Legislature’s Joint Legislative Procedure Committee settled on the potential compromise.
The next step now is each chamber must decide whether to accept that potential solution. There are other possible rule changes the joint committee proposed too.
LRC director Jason Hancock said his staff is committed to the electronic approach.
“With the new system we’re in this year, we’re even more in this world now,” Hancock said.
The staff could still print on paper a specific bill if requested but that won’t be the normal procedure, according to Hancock.
Senate Republican leader Kris Langer of Dell Rapids said the rules need to be permissive so lawmakers could react if computer problems happen.
Hancock replied that such a “dire” situation could be handled “at the drop of a hat” through a suspension of the rules.
House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte also disagreed with his Senate counterpart. “I’ve never seen a computer system go down yet,” Qualm said.
Langer pointed out that suspending the rules takes a two-thirds majority.
Representative Jon Hansen, a Dell Rapids Republican, suggested giving emergency power to the presiding officers to switch to paper if necessary.
Senator Brock Greenfield, a Clark Republican, agreed. “We’re complicating everything in here,” Greenfield said.
In the end, the committee removed the word “electronically” from most of the places it appeared and adopted another section giving a presiding officer the authority in an emergency to switch to paper.