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Thursday, January 22, 2009

South Dakota legislators must reveal identity to get records

State officials in South Dakota have been instructed to not provide data requested by the Legislative Research Council, which conducts research for lawmakers, unless the identity of the requesting legislator is revealed. While in most states, such a policy would be illegal, South Dakota does not yet have a law that presumes that all government records are public. An effort to pass such a bill is expected this year.

The excuses for demanding to know which legislator is asking questions? Well, for one, the governor claims this allows the staff to tailor the information provided to different lawmakers, adding more background for new legislators. He's also worried that useless requests will rob his staff of valuable time.
When state Sen. Gene Abdallah wanted to know how many aircraft the state owns, he figured it would be easy to get the information.

So last month, the Sioux Falls Republican made a request through the Legislative Research Council - the state's research arm for lawmakers.

The LRC had a list of aircraft, but to get details about those planes - their conditions and estimated values - a researcher had to ask officials in Gov. Rounds' administration.
More here.

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