Here is how much state lawmakers spent on out-of-state travel in 2023
2023 travel scaled back compared to year prior
PIERRE — South Dakota taxpayers footed the bill for nearly $100,000 in out-of-state travel for state lawmakers last year.
A review of legislative travel records by The Dakota Scout this week found that more than $90,000 was expended by the Legislative Research Council in 2023 for 36 legislators to attend conventions and conferences throughout the country, and as far away as South America.
Intended to provide lawmakers opportunities to learn from other government officials outside of South Dakota and garner ideas and policy directive, those types of out-of-state trips are common, and it’s typical for the state to cover the cost of airfare, lodging, meals and attendance fees. However, they’ve come under added scrutiny in recent years after a pair of outgoing lawmakers in 2022 traveled to Hawaii for a Council of State Governments conference days before their terms ended.
That prompted leaders at the state Capitol last year to introduce legislation that sought to prevent “lame-duck” lawmakers from abusing out-of-state travel privileges. While those efforts fell short — opponents argued it was unnecessary because leadership already has the authority to approve or deny travel requests — top officials in both the House and Senate say they are being extra mindful of what took place in 2022 as the end of another term approaches.
“The state isn’t paying for lame-duck legislators to travel to Hawaii,” Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck told The Dakota Scout this week.
Complete list of lawmaker out-of-state travel below: