South Dakota Supreme Court answers legislative conflicts question, loosens decades of restrictions
Most contracts between state, lawmakers OK, court rules
The South Dakota Supreme Court has ditched nearly four decades of precedent that restricted lawmakers from conducting business with the state.
That’s the takeaway of a 29-page ruling handed down by a majority of justices Friday in which they overturned two prior rulings regarding legislative conflicts that until now had strictly enforced a constitutional prohibition on legislators directly or indirectly benefiting from state and county contracts.
“The contract restriction stated in Article III, § 12 is not a categorical bar on all contracts funded by the state,” Justice Mark Salter wrote in the majority opinion, to which one of his colleagues dissented. “Instead, it prohibits a legislator, or former legislator within one year following the expiration of the legislator’s term, from being interested, directly or indirectly, in contracts that are authorized by laws passed during the legislator’s term.”