- Associated Press - Monday, May 15, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota lawmakers on Monday chose people to lead studies ahead of the 2018 legislative session on workforce housing, campaign finance regulations and the state’s ballot question system.

Here’s a look at some of the issues that members of the study groups expect to consider:



The Government Accountability Task Force is set to focus on campaign finance issues. It comes after Republican lawmakers during the 2017 session repealed a voter-imposed government ethics overhaul that included lower contribution limits and created a public campaign finance system.

Republican Sen. Jordan Youngberg was chosen to chair the task force. He said that lawmakers promised that they would repeal and replace the ethics overhaul, and Youngberg wants to make sure to keep that pledge. Democratic Rep. Julie Bartling was chosen as vice chairwoman.

The panel should use the limits that voters approved in the ethics measure as their starting point, said Doug Kronaizl, a spokesman for Represent South Dakota, a group that supported the ethics initiative and plans to push a new constitutional amendment.



The Initiative and Referendum Task Force will examine potential changes to the initiated measure, constitutional amendment and referred law processes. Republicans have discussed changes to the ballot question system after an election season with 10 initiatives that brought in millions of dollars from out-of-state groups.

Augustana University professor Emily Wanless will head that group, while GOP Rep. Don Haggar will be vice chairman.

Haggar said members will focus on improving the ballot question process. He said he anticipates members will examine signature requirements and expects people to raise concerns over the Legislature’s ability to overturn initiatives.

Kronaizl said he’s concerned that the group may be “gearing up to take some pretty serious swipes at the initiative and referendum process.” Haggar said that he wouldn’t support anything that would impede it.



The Legislature’s Executive Board chose Republican Rep. David Lust to lead a study on workforce housing with a focus on communities smaller than 5,000 people.

“If nothing else comes of this study, it should be that we get a good inventory of the problems cities and counties are facing and what tools they’ve used to try to address the issue,” Lust said.

GOP Sen. Ryan Maher, who was selected to be vice chairman, said that it’s difficult to attract employees without having places available for them to live.

Maher said he wants the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to discuss with the group how small towns can deal with dilapidated houses. Maher said he’d also like to look at allowing counties to more quickly auction off houses if people don’t pay their property taxes.

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