After Long Journey, Campaign Finance Bill Heads To Governor

Mar 11, 2017

Credit Jenifer Jones / SDPB

South Dakota lawmakers may no longer use political money for personal use. That’s one of the many caveats of Senate Bill 54 that’s up for consideration by Governor Dennis Daugaard.
 
The legislation started as clean up language in state statute regarding campaign finance laws. The bill was amended several times as it worked through the legislature.
 
Campaign finance limits in Senate Bill 54 were amended over 10 times. The result was lawmakers in each house failed to agree on the changes. A final amendment to the bill places limits on political cash to what they were before voters approved IM 22 in November. IM 22 reduced the amount of money candidates can accept.
 
Critics of the legislation say the bill now let’s corporations and labor unions to donate directly to candidate campaigns.
 
Doug Kronaizl is with Represent South Dakota, a subsidiary of Represent Us which backed IM 22. He says SB 54 in no way respects the intent of IM 22.
 
“The floodgates are a little more open, in that respect," Kronaizl says. "So that’s definitely something that we feel like the bill itself moved in a direction counter to what voters were demanding at the polls.”
 
The bill is the result of a summer study spearheaded by Secretary of State Shantel Krebs last summer.
Krebs says the decision to allow direct contributions from businesses and labor unions was a unanimous decision from a bi-partisan committee. She says the change will make disclosures more transparent.
 
“So that the money wouldn’t be funneled through a PAC, so that the money from a business or an entity would be directly reported from and to that candidate, from a business to a candidate,” Krebs says.
 
Krebs says election laws haven’t been updated in over a decade.
 
A task force is set to take a closer look at campaign finance limits this summers.