We were pleasantly surprised Thursday (1/29) to see a new open records measure introduced by State Senator Dave Knudson and a bi-partisan group of legislative leaders. SB-147 emerges with the presumption that public documents should be accessible to the public unless there is ample justification for keeping them confidential.
That's light years ahead of existing law, which basically presumes that records are closed to the public unless specifically identified as "open." There are lots of exceptions in this new measure -- maybe too many -- but it's a big step in the right direction for South Dakota.
Congratulations to Senators Knudson, Heidepriem, Rhoden, Turbak Berry, and several other legislators in both the Senate and House for stepping forward with this important piece of legislation.
Take a look at SB-147.
I think the legislature will pass this bill -- or some form of it -- this session. But don't expect the Governor to sign it with a smile, if he signs it at all.
With the fiscal crisis enveloping state government, this will likely be one of a handful of "non-fiscal" topics to get much attention. We look forward to watching the story evolve.