The 2017 legislative session, more than any other in the last couple of decades, was a clear display of just how bad things have become when it comes to politics in our state. It boils down to the majority party’s treatment of the voter-approved ethics overhaul commonly referred to as IM 22.
That initiated measure, approved last November, amounted to the first comprehensive ethics and open government reform law the state had seen in decades. Deeply flawed though it may have been, IM 22 was voters’ only option following years of inaction and two deadly corruption scandals that rocked the state.
The legislature had steadfastly refused over the years to pass anything that would substantially improve South Dakotans’ ability to know who, what and when their politicians are given free stuff. Our state’s record on openness remained dismal at best. And while neither the GEAR UP nor the EB-5 scandals would likely have been prevented by IM 22’s provisions, voters clearly wanted to see some movement on ethics reform both for government bureaucrats and politicians. And they weren’t getting that from the legislature.
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