Pierre, S.D. (Jan. 20, 2023) – A battle has ensued in the South Dakota Legislature and tensions are escalating. Today the South Dakota Freedom Caucus issued a statement challenging the Constitutional authority of Governor Noem’s executive agencies to introduce legislation, arguing that Noem and her agencies have overstepped their authority by attempting to circumvent the Legislature and their constitutional lawmaking authority.
The issue started last Friday in the House Commerce and Energy Committee where Freedom Caucus Treasurer, Representative Mulally challenged the introduction of House Bill 1011 and 1012 as an attempt by an executive agency to undermine the Legislature’s authority to introduce legislation. Mulally argued in committee that both bills were being sponsored by an executive agency that lacked constitutional lawmaking authority.
According to the South Dakota Legislature website and other documents, both bills are shown to be sponsored by the Department of Labor and Regulations.
“The Governor and the executive agencies seem to conveniently forget we have three branches of government, not one,” said Freedom Caucus Treasurer Representative Tina Mulally, “it’s the difference between a Republic and a despotism.”
Immediately following the committee hearing last week, State Freedom Caucus Network lobbyist, Jordan Mason, filed a public records request for any documents that would authorize such legislation to be introduced. His request is being challenged.
“The South Dakota Freedom Caucus is right to challenge this overstepping of legislative authority, and any official action taken by the Legislature should be done in plain view,” said Mason explaining his request for the documents.
However, the Freedom Caucus statement today indicates that the problem is wide spread, stating that “eighty-four bills have been unconstitutionally introduced without a publicly declared legislator sponsoring”. The Freedom Caucus will be challenging the “reading or introduction of any legislation that has not been publicly sponsored by a duly-elected Representative or Senator.”
“This is a constitutional issue, and it should be an easy fix. We need to make sure that the people’s elected representatives are the ones leading this process and not unelected bureaucrats,” said Freedom Caucus Chair Representative Aylward.
Aylward stated that this issue has been building for years, but began to boil over last year when Governor Noem distributed $100M of federal money without legislative authority.
Freedom Caucus Vice-Chairman, Representative Tony Randolph, indicated that he is trying to bring legislation to address the issue. He anticipates that he will face opposition from party leadership, and he is already running against the clock to introduce legislation to address the problem this session because there are only eight legislative days left to introduce the bill.