It’s a virtual tug-of-war over the way business is done in Pierre. Are opposing voices being silenced or is this an attempt to keep proper decorum?

The South Dakota Legislature scuttled the anti-corruption and publicly funded political campaigns measure that was approved by the voters in November. However, Republican Senators Lance Russell and Stace Nelson were disturbed by potential conflicts of interest.

At the time of the vote, Judge Mark Barnett had stopped IM22 from being enacted after a lawsuit was filed by seventeen state senators and seven representatives. Those elected officials then lined up in support of HB1069 which essentially repealed IM22 and placed a provision in the bill that prevented the public from acting on the decision.

Nelson and Russell both felt the parties in the lawsuit should have recused themselves from the vote as a matter of principle. Both men spoke to that effect on the Senate floor and entered a dissenting report into the Senate Journal which chronicled their opposition.

The Senate Journal was approved with the rebuke included. Nelson now says there is a proposal being considered to remove the entry from the Journal.

“Myself and Senator Russell submitted and had entered a scathing dissenting report about the misconduct and the unethical efforts made to overturn IM22. The Senate approved the Journal. A week later, they decided that they didn’t like the fact that we put all that into posterity and (one senator proposes) a ‘Hail Mary’ which would censure our freedom of speech and take out the parts they don’t like without actually saying what they didn’t like.”

Nelson personally was not a fan of the law, but recognizes there were people that voted for it.

“The bottom line is, I had about 50 percent of my constituents supported IM22. Even though I didn’t, I had a duty and an obligation to defend their will that was enacted in the November election.”

The request to strike the dissent from the Senate Journal is still under consideration. A ruling could be determined by the end of the 2017 session.

Below is an image that shows the text of the Senate Journal record in question.

Nelson Journal Letter
Used with permission

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