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February20

New open meeting provision passes committee

A bill opening the texts and emails of school board members and other political subdivision representatives for review based on suspicion of open meeting violations walked through its first legislative door.

 

Members of the House Local Government committee voted 11-2 in support of House Bill 1153, which would include electronic text colloquy on the list of public records that may be reviewed by the public when accusations of open meeting violations are made and requires retention of the records for one year.

 

Proponents of the bill said it would extend and clarify open meeting law in the realm of new technology.

 

ASBSD is opposed to the bill.

 

“I am fearful that…we’re fogging the issue of what’s a public meeting and what’s a public record,” ASBSD Lobbyist Dick Tieszen said, adding the bill could lead “to an invasion of personal privacy.”

 

Suspected violations of the state’s open meeting laws are referred by a district attorney to the South Dakota Open Meeting Commission, who then makes a decision on whether there was in fact a violation.

 

Tieszen noted the OMC does not “decide issues” of public record, which, under HB 1153, would include text colloquy, thus muddying the open meeting violation determination because the text colloquy would be the sole piece of evidence the OMC would base a decision on.

 

The bill now moves to the House floor – where a similar version was defeated two years ago – for review and vote. For updates, check the ASBSD Blog, Bill Tracker page and Twitter feed.

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