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SD Senate panel to debate expanding lobbying restrictions

February 4, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A broader swath of state employees would be covered under rules barring officials from private lobbying for two years after leaving government in a bill South Dakota lawmakers plan to debate this week.

Republican Sen. Stace Nelson said Monday that his measure would prohibit former state employees from using their relationships for the benefit of private companies to lobby. The Senate State Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear the plan Wednesday.

The prohibition in current law — a violation is a misdemeanor — applies to elected officials, department and agency heads, division directors and the highest-paid employee reporting to them. Nelson’s bill would expand the list to include employees of the governor, paid members of the governor’s transition team and Unified Judicial System employees.

“It would extend those moratoriums on going from working for the seat of government to lobbying the next day and using those significant contacts as a state employee to influence state government on the behalf of a private interest,” Nelson said.

The push comes after lawmakers in 2017 tightened the restrictions following the repeal a voter-imposed government ethics overhaul. A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said in an email that the governor and her team are reviewing the measure.

Nelson said the plan is one in a series of bills he’s bringing that aim to address perceptions of corruption in state government. They include legislation on nepotism, drug testing lawmakers and requiring legislative caucuses to be open to the public.

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