State lawmakers on a South Dakota House panel turned down election-code changes some of the Legislature’s more-conservative members wanted Wednesday.
Representative Steve Livermont proposed repealing the law requiring candidates to put disclosure statements on their campaign ads and many of their materials.
The Martin Republican handed out copies showing a candidate in his legislative district didn’t have a disclaimer on a homemade sign.
“If we’re not enforcing the law, let’s get rid of the law. Call this a clean-up bill,” Livermont said.
He met opposition from Tony Venhuizen, a top aide to Governor Kristi Noem, and from David Bordewyk, head of the South Dakota Newspaper Association.
Venhuizen said Noem, a Republican, was “very committed to transparency.” Venhuizen described the repeal attempt as “a step in the wrong direction.”
Bordewyk called it “overreach.”
“Our newspapers take that disclaimer very seriously,” he said. “People do want to know.”
Livermont didn’t let up in his rebuttal.
“No law’s worth a hill of beans if it’s not enforced,” he said.
Livermont said he would be happy to work with anyone who had a clear and simple solution.
“But I’m not sure there’s a simple fix,” he said.
The committee voted 13-0 against Livermont’s HB 1097. The panel next killed HB 1129 on a 10-3 vote. It would have made state law more specific on how voters establish residency.
Representative Thomas Brunner wanted to require voters be residents of South Dakota for at least 30 days prior to an election.
Current state law is fuzzy. It says residence “means the place in which a person has fixed his or her habitation and to which the person, whenever absent, intends to return.”
The current law further states: “A person who has left home and gone into another state or territory or county of this state for a temporary purpose only has not changed his or her residence.”
The Nisland Republican emphasized he was trying to make change only for voters. But, he noted, the concept could be “easily transferred” to other chapters of state election laws.
Brunner was part of a group of conservative legislators from western South Dakota who challenged the residencies of Senator Red Dawn Foster and Representative Peri Pourier.
The two Democrats from Pine Ridge didn’t live in South Dakota for all of the required two years before they ran for their legislative seats.
Brunner told the committee he would have preferred a longer time as the requirement for voters but 30 days seemed like the acceptable threshold in courts outside South Dakota.
“It clarifies you have more than a mailbox,” Brunner said.
The proposed change met opposition from Kea Warne. She is director elections for Secretary of State Steve Barnett.
“Having a permanent dwelling is going to affect the homeless in South Dakota who vote,” Warne warned.