Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

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Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Jan. 28, 2014

Making police logs public a start

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has pledged to make state government more open to the public and last year his Open Government Task Force submitted eight bills in the 2013 legislative session. The Legislature rejected five of the proposed laws.

One of the proposed laws was one that would make police logs and criminal booking photos public. Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-S.D., has introduced a revised bill this year that would change state law to require law enforcement agencies to release police logs to the public.

Senate Bill 85 maintains the confidentiality of criminal justice information and criminal histories, while allowing legal entities to release the information. However, the bill states: “Information about calls for service revealing the date, time, and general location and general subject matter of the call is not confidential criminal justice information and shall be released to the public” unless the information would jeopardize an ongoing investigation.

We support Tieszen’s bill. Police logs should be available to the public, as they are in most other states. The public wants to know what calls police are answering, especially when it’s in their own neighborhood.

We are disappointed that making criminal booking photos public is not included in Tieszen’s bill. Again, most states already allow the release of police mug shots.

The failure of most of the Open Government Task Force bills to pass the 2013 Legislature was discouraging. Gov. Daugaard, however, told the Journal editorial board that he still supports the task force’s recommendations.

We would like to see the administration or one or more lawmakers to reintroduce some of the failed open government bills this year. For instance: making emails and text messages sent by public officials during meetings to be open records, requiring that minutes be kept during executive sessions and making committees and subcommittees of public bodies subject to open meetings laws.

The Legislature should pass Tieszen’s police logs bill, but there are still a lot of government records and meetings in South Dakota that remain hidden from the public.

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Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, Jan. 25, 2014

Legislature must protect insurance consumers

Momentum seems to be building for some needed changes in consumer protection laws regarding insurance providers.

The changes would increase the power of the Division of Insurance to deal with companies that use unfair practices and would allow the agency to penalize the firms found to be “bad actors.”

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