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Lobbyist sues South Dakota House speaker over floor access

January 23, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A longtime lobbyist is suing the speaker of the South Dakota House, alleging that he banned her from the chamber’s floor after she wrote a magazine column saying the number of “wackies” in the Legislature was increasing.

Yvonne Taylor, who heads the South Dakota Municipal League, alleges that Speaker Steve Haugaard barred her from the House floor during a private meeting at the Capitol on Jan. 14, the Argus Leader reported.

“One important aspect of lobbying is circulating bill sponsor sheets and explaining to legislators the bill they are being asked to sponsor,” the lawsuit states. “Legislators sign the bill sponsor sheet in order to become a sponsor of a bill. This activity occurs almost exclusively on the floors of the House and Senate.”

Taylor said Haugaard objected to a column she wrote in May for the Municipal League, which advocates on behalf of the state’s municipalities. In the May column, Taylor lamented the “wackies” who oppose government and any taxation, even when groups that would pay added taxes or fees want them.

Taylor alleges that Haugaard said it made the Legislature look like “a bunch of buffoons” and accuses him of unlawful retaliation and violating her free speech rights. The lawsuit contends that banning Taylor from the floor prevented her from being able to adequately represent her group’s members.

The House floor is typically open to lobbyists, journalists and members of the public. The newspaper reported that Haugaard didn’t respond to its message left Tuesday seeking comment.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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