Battle brewing in legislature over Noem’s traveling security costs


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A bill that would require Governor Kristi Noem to release the cost of security after she travels lost some of its sponsors.

On Wednesday, three Republican lawmakers dropped their names from House Bill 1089. And the main sponsor in the House believes they were pressured to do so.

Republican Representative Taffy Howard of Rapid City says some of the sponsors were “called to the second floor” where the Governor’s office is located.

“I was told after that, the sponsors were pulling off the bill,” said Howard.

KELOLAND News asked if she had spoken to any of the sponsors who pulled out directly.

“I have and I want to be, honestly I have to be careful I don’t want to betray confidences. What I can say is that there is a history of legislators being called down to the second floor and basically being told in maybe veiled terms that if they don’t change what they are doing, their bills will have no chance of seeing the light of day,” Howard said.

Howard says she will continue to fight for transparency in government. She says it is her responsibility and duty as a member of the joint Appropriations Committee. Representative Howard says she is being targeted, presumably by political operatives claiming she is siding with Democrats. But Howard argues nothing could be further from the truth because she is a fiscal conservative.

“I’ve been very clear some on this, it came about with the Governor traveling and campaigning for President Trump. And I’ve been very open and honest I fully supported President Trump and if her campaigning in any way helped him, I was all for it, as long as the taxpayers weren’t paying for it. I didn’t think South Dakota taxpayers should pay for that; I’m really not sure why there is push back on releasing the data,” said Howard.

At one point, the bill was down to three sponsors, but on Thursday other lawmakers added their names in support of the bill. The sponsors now include four Republicans and two Democrats.

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