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Senate Committee May Restrict Lobbyists From Gathering Place

Lee Strubinger

A South Dakota Senate Committee will consider restricting lobbyists from hallways adjacent to the Senate floor.
Supporters of the rule change say the presence of lobbyists has at times been disruptive.
A senate rules committee may close off a portion of the senate chambers to lobbyists during operating hours.
Of the two hallways alongside Senate chambers, one is a hangout where lobbyists hope to catch senators or watch any bills they’re following.
State Senator Brock Greenfield says it would be his intention to restrict access to the otherwise public hallway during the same hours that access to the floor is restricted.
“So, three our prior and one hour after," Greenfield says. "It would allow us to open the door and allow us for freer flow of legislator traffic to the bathroom to offices what have you.”
As the Senate President Pro Temp, Greenfield can lift or expand the restriction on either hallway at any point.
Some senators say the lack of office space requires they work at their desk on the Senate floor. They say noise from the hallway is a distraction.
The hearing on Senate rules was packed with lobbyists.
David Owen is a lobbyist who testified against the rule change.
“All of us will approach you a say, do you have a second? Geez, that’s got to get old for you folks. But quite honestly, you sought this position. You want to make these decisions and so we have information for you," Owen says. "So, I will tell you, closing off that hall for the three hours before and one hour after is objectionable.”
Other lobbyists argue that because of term limits many of them carry institutional knowledge and are able to educate upcoming lobbyist and representatives.
The Senate Rules committee postponed a decision until their next meeting.