A house committee is proposing a $100,000 cap on contributions from out-of-state groups that give funds to state ballot questions.
Some lawmakers say the bill is in response to the various interest groups that spend thousands of dollars to influence state elections. Critics say it opens the state up to a lawsuit.
The bill as originally proposed sought to cap a percentage of money out of state groups can donate to ballot question committees. The amended bill puts a hard cap of $100,000 on money contributed by out of state interest groups.
A limit does not apply to in-state residents, political committees registered in state, and businesses and organizations that have been registered in South Dakota for four years.
Representative David Lust voted against the bill. He says the bill will get challenged in court on the grounds of limiting free speech…
“This is censorship. This is paternalistic. This is not good policy," Lust says. "It’s reactionary to some things that got through that we would have preferred not gotten through which we have now taken care of.”
Lust is referring to Initiated Measure 22, a campaign finance and ethics reform packages that lawmakers have repealed and are hoping to replace.
Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson says the state has a compelling interest in limiting out of state speech. He says previous Supreme Court cases do not apply to this bill. Mickelson says the bill attempts to reign in interest groups promoting a national agenda.
“This doesn’t fix the problem, because we aren’t restricting their contributions to candidates and we aren’t restricting their ability to contribute independently," Mickelson says." So if they still want to come in and screw around with things, they can. But it’s narrowly crafted to make it a little bit more difficult.”
The bill passed committee on a 9 to 4 vote and now heads to the House floor.
Governor Dennis Daugaard's chief of staff says the governor supports the legislation.