- Associated Press - Friday, January 13, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota Senate leaders are proposing new restrictions on lobbyists at the state Capitol, keeping them out of the chamber and nearby hallways during work hours to cut down on distractions.

A Senate committee deferred action Thursday, but is likely to take up the matter again next week, the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/2iPeJMy ) reported. Once the committee reaches a decision of whether to adopt the change, Senate President Pro Tempore Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, will decide how to apply it.

Greenfield said that he would probably be in favor with what the senators are supporting - restricting state employee lobbyists during full work days and restrict private lobbyists during three hours before floor session. He said those restrictions would be subject to change if any problems were to develop.

“I don’t want to give the impression that we view ourselves in a different light than we ever have,” Greenfield said.

He noted that with the change legislature would not be “shutting down public access.”

Lobbyists argue they need access to legislators during work hours to fulfill the will of the people.

“It’s been more popular than ever to pick on lobbyists in South Dakota and most of that comes from ignorance about what we actually do,” said Jeremiah Murphy, a lobbyist from Rapid City. “Every citizen in this state is represented by a lobbyist … We can’t do that as well if you push us away.”

Senators said there’s no connection to the voter-approved campaign finance and ethics overhaul that sets limits on gifts lobbyists could give to legislators. Some lawmakers said they plan to repeal and replace that new measure.

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

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