Noem’s political donation bill nears passage in both legislative chambers

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 6:55 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A bill heavily backed by Governor Kristi Noem is nearing passage in the South Dakota state legislature.

HB 1079 passed through the state house strictly along party lines, with Republicans all in support and Democrats opposed.

The bill prohibits the executive branch of South Dakota from “(requiring) any annual filing or reporting of a nonprofit corporation or charitable trust that is more stringent, restrictive, or expansive than that required by state or federal law.”

Republicans in support say the bill is only precautionary. State Rep. Ryan Cwach (D-Yankton) has been one of the bill’s biggest skeptics.

“(The) question that I had at first, what does it do?” said Cwach. “A lot of people said well it doesn’t do anything, and that makes me suspicious. Why are you proposing a law that doesn’t do anything, I think every law has (an) impact on people and influences people.”

Democrats also allege the bill would affect campaign finance laws, leading to less transparency. The Governor’s office said this was “100% false.”

She also dismissed claims that it would benefit her political campaign, pointing to this article by South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

“This bill does absolutely nothing to the campaign finance statues in our code,” said Gov. Noem. “It is specifically just says the state government needs to follow state law. (And) If people want to start disclosing more information and more donors to different charitable organizations, than they can come back to the legislature and pass a bill to do that.”

However, Democrats disagreed.

“This bill is designed to show potential donors for both campaigns in state and out of state that South Dakota is the place where you are not going to have to worry about state disclosures for political expenses.”

The bill was slated to be voted upon Thursday in the state senate, however, the senate pushed off voting on the bill till Tuesday in order to get out early ahead of the long weekend.

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