SD attorney general to file ethics bill with Legislature

PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA TV) – South Dakota’s attorney general has six proposed bills that will go before lawmakers when the 2017 Legislative Session begins Tuesday.

The bills range from ethics of public officials to expanding the state’s sobriety program.

The proposed bill on ethics is titled “Profiting and criminalizing direct conflicts of interest and self-dealings resulting in personal financial benefit from taxpayer monies.”

This bill is in response to the voter-approved ethics law that was put on hold when a group of Republican lawmakers challenged it. Attorney General Marty Jackley wanted the judge to at least allow some parts of the law to take effect, such as caps on campaign contributions and tougher lobbying regulations. His request was denied.

In Jackley’s proposed bill, it would be a criminal theft if a public official knowingly took funds or property entrusted to him or her. Right now it is just a misdemeanor self-dealing penalty.

Other proposed bills are:

Releasing booking photographs to the public

Under current South Dakota law, it is a criminal misdemeanor to release booking photos to the public except under certain circumstances. Jackley believes releasing the mug shots provides better transparency in the criminal process.

Expand the 24/7 sobriety program

The AG wants sheriffs and the courts to have access to mobile breath alcohol testing devices. He says it will help law enforcement and the participants in the program.

Improve the State Automated Victim Notification System

This is another transparency effort by the attorney general, making offender information readily available to victims via the SAVIN program rather than other agencies.

Addressing presumptive probation concerns

The attorney general wants to make sure violent offenders are not given the same chance of probation as other, non-violent offenders have.

Strengthening vehicular homicide sentences

Vehicular homicide is not statutorily defined as a crime of violence, according to Jackley. He wants to change that so judges can impose longer sentences.