Lawmakers may take up campus speech, ballot question bills
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers will attend sexual harassment training this week and could consider bills on ballot questions, free speech on campus and data breaches.
Here’s a look at the agenda after legislators return Tuesday to the Capitol:
Thirty lawmakers are backing a bill that supporters say would promote the free expression of ideas on college campuses. The plan says people can freely engage in “expressive activity” on campus such as peaceful assembly, speeches and guest speakers and circulating petitions, if they don’t break the law or significantly disrupt the functioning of the institution.
The bill dictates that any outdoor area on public college campuses is a public forum. It would also require institutions to make sure that staff — such as faculty, administrators and campus police — understand the proposed law.
Republican Rep. Michael Clark, the bill’s main sponsor, said college campuses should be places of “lively discussion, vigorous debate over the issues.” Clark said he hopes the bill will have a committee hearing on Friday.
Libby Skarin, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, said the bill is “redundant at best,” calling it a “mish-mash of existing constitutional standards.” Skarin said she’s also concerned with a provision that would allow people or student associations to sue another person over a violation of the proposed law.
The state Board of Regents didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press requesting comment on the bill during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
LET’S TALK INITIATIVES
Lawmakers are set to debate a bill that would create a commission to provide a public forum for reviewing ballot questions before they go to voters. The 11-member panel would hold at least one meeting per ballot measure to hear from the initiative’s sponsor about its purpose and take public testimony. The group would also write an objective summary of each ballot question.
The House State Affairs Committee is set to take up the bill on Wednesday.
A bill from Attorney General Marty Jackley that would require companies to notify South Dakota residents whose personal information was taken in a data breach is scheduled to be heard Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposal would also require companies to inform the attorney general if a breach affected more than 250 residents.
Lawmakers and their staff will have ethics, professionalism and sexual harassment training on Wednesday. The training, which is required for employees, comes after news reports about women who experienced sexism and harassment around statehouses nationwide. Legislative leaders have said all lawmakers are expected to attend.
Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd said in a statement announcing the training that sexual harassment “will not be tolerated.”