S.D. legislators block Social Services from relying only on websites

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Pierre map locator South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) – Lawmakers refused Monday to allow the South Dakota Department of Social Services to put some of its rates information solely on state-government websites.

The data covered everyday items such as welfare amounts for families and reimbursement rates for health-services providers.

A majority of the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee stopped the department from moving forward on 13 different rules altogether.

The department now must set aside the proposed changes or find ways to change some minds on the committee.

The lawmakers let some of the department’s other proposed rules proceed
Senator Craig Kennedy, a Democrat from Yankton, and Senator Lance Russell, a Republican from Hot Springs, first raised the stop sign against using only the internet.

Kennedy, a lawyer who said he’s pretty good using computers, said the websites were in obscure locations. He said he struggled to find one of the data sets.

“I think we best not forget our responsibility to the public that we need to be transparent in what we do out here,” Kennedy said 

One of the department’s top officials said using the internet was a way to reduce duplication.

Deputy Secretary Brenda Tidball-Zeltinger said department staff would be “happy” to consider the lawmakers’ comments.

Russell said his concern was state law would let a state agency adopt a federal regulation, such as the welfare-payment schedule, without citing the regulation and without going through the legislative-rule process.

Tidball-Zeltinger said she would take direction from the legislators on how to refer to the federal regulation.

Russell said every other agency comes back annually or biannually to update rules. He wants Social Services to put in writing an explanation for the committee to consider what he called “agency decrees.”

“I need some statutory authority,” Russell told her. “I would be interested in your response to that.”

“We’re happy to do that,” Tidball-Zeltinger replied. 

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