PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A legislative panel agreed Tuesday that taxpayer-funded workers’ compensation pools for South Dakota school boards and municipalities shouldn’t have to disclose more information.
The Senate Commerce and Energy Committee voted 9-0 to kill SB 92.
State law has exempted the pools from reporting to the state Division of Insurance since 1991. Senator Timothy Johns, R-Lead, wanted them to provide more detailed information to the state auditor general and appear annually before the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee.
Dick Tieszen, a lawyer for Associated School Boards of South Dakota, said the pools were designed as an “innovative” solution at a time when coverage for workers’ compensation was difficult to obtain. Yvonne Taylor, executive director for the South Dakota Municipal League, said that the pools, which operate on taxpayer funds, really weren’t public entities.
Tieszen and Taylor both said the auditor general already can get any information on a pool. “This bill is overreach by the state government and we would urge you to defeat it,” Taylor said.
Representative Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls, said GOAC members received testimony last year about some practices. “With taxpayer dollars, I would submit to you that we need more transparency, not less,” Peterson said. “We’re not asking to put them under the Division of Insurance. We’re asking for some accountability.”
Senator David Wheeler, R-Huron, said the bill went too far. Wheeler, who served eight years on the local school board, said there are times when government acts as a business and needs to protect proprietary information. “I’m not convinced we have a problem that needs to be fixed by this particular solution,” Wheeler said. “I just don’t see this helping that at all.”
Senator Wayne Steinhauer, R-Hartford, said the bill was well-intended but some of it gave him heartburn. Senator Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, disagreed with posting detailed information on the internet: “No business should have that done to their business.”