(Almost a year ago today, it's kind of Deja Vu.) Badges? We don't need no stinking badges, Part II

I knew I'd written on this before.

I got an e-mail action alert today from Duane Sand at the Americans for Prosperity on a measure to be heard in the legislature banning Blue Badges from lobbying outside of committees. Since that seemed familiar, I pulled my old posts, and on February 3rd, 2006 I had written on a legislator unhappy about the very same topic:
You can tell Senator Garry Moore isn't going to be in the Senate anymore, since he's term limited out. Because anything that he might have considered just biting his tongue on in prior years is filtering through.

Last week, he was unhappy about someone pointing at his chest. If you read his legislative column this week in the Yankton County Observer, he laments the number of Blue Badge lobbyists (meaning they lobby for government). In part of it, he says,
"..in my opinion, Blue Badges should be prohibited from being on the third floor of the capitol building. Blue Badges should be allowed to speak with legislators, but not to actively lobby on third floor.."
Fast Forward to today, and as mentioned, An e-mail alert went out from AFP alerting South Dakotans on their e-mail list to a bill which covers that same territory:

Dear Taxpayers,

HB-1237 is a Bill the House State Affairs Committee will consider tomorrow, 7 February. The Bill will prohibit State Government Employees from lobbying lawmakers during their "on-duty" time. Currently there are approximately 300 state government employees registered as lobbyists in South Dakota, and the list has been growing each week since January 1st.

What is a Lobbyist? A Lobbyist is someone who actively seeks to influence legislation, by actively seeking to influence our elected representatives.

So what does HB-1237 NOT do? We are not trying to prohibit state employees from contacting their representatives. Nor do we want to prohibit them from testifying in committee, or even providing information to lawmakers to help them make better, more informed decisions.

However, what we do not support government employees, paid by taxpayers to do a specific job, to take time off from the job that you (the taxpayer) are paying them to do, so that they can lobby, for what is generally the case, MORE TAXPAYER MONEY! Often times in the form of legislation that ultimately grows government by growing their respective state agencies and/or the agencies' budgets.

After the Taxpayer Trust Tour, when lobbying was discussed at nearly every stop, I approached Lawmakers about their experiences with this issue. (State Employees registered as lobbyists wear "Blue Badges") EVERY Legislator I talked to told me that "Blue Badges" are a SIGNIFICANT force in the Capitol. And they descend upon the lawmakers, sent by their respective state employee agency bosses, to influence legislation that regularly results in more spending in their agency. This is fundamentally wrong. And it clearly distorts the democratic process whereby our elected officials trying to represent you have to face significant pressure to do what is best for government - NOT YOU.

HELP US! Please call (605-773-3851) or email your Legislators today! Find your elected representatives at: http://legis.state.sd.us/who/index.aspx

To find members of the House State Affairs Committee: http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2007/comm.htm

If you can make it to Pierre tomorrow by 10am in room 412 of the Capitol. Please come join us in showing support for Representative Hackl as he testifies with many others to pass this Bill out of committee!
(Don't hold back. Tell us what you really think.) The bill that South Dakota AFP Director Duane Sand is referring to is as mentioned HB 1237. The only change what we have now is an addition to SDCL 2-12-7.1 which notes:

However, no executive or judicial agency representative may promote, oppose, or influence the passage of legislation in any manner other than by testimony before a legislative committee.

You can read the whole bill here including the existing language.

Garry Moore who grumbled about it last year is nowhere to be seen on the legislation as a sponsor (Representatives Hackl, Bradford, Davis, DeVries, Haverly, and Wick and Senators Napoli and Apa are listed as introducing this years' measure).

You can look at the AFP - SD website here, and be sure to stay tuned. I'm sure there will be more to write about after the measure is heard tomorrow.


Anonymous said…
Wow! Those are some real impressive sponsors. I'm sure Pierre is shaking tonight.
Anonymous said…
As if it has to be said, that is just stupid.
Anonymous said…
Wow. Can you even fathom the vast brown sea of flawed legislation that would result? And just think of what morons it would make the leadership of both parties look like when the Gov (any Gov) had to veto half the bills passed for various technical flaws.

They'd look like utter morons.

GOP Come Home said…

The sky if falling...the sky is falling!

Why would we have bad legislation just because blue badgers are not allowed to lobby on the 3rd floor of the capitol?

Lobbyist who are paid for by OUR tax dollars should be regulated more heavily.

All they do is use our tax dollars to lobby for more spending.

Besides all the blue badgers need to do is work more closely with legislators during the off season.

Oh..but wait that would make it more difficult for the Govs office to hire its favorite lawyers to lobby.

Really, bad legislation is a by-product of bad ideas not the momentary abscence of a lobbyist from a certain floor of the capitol during session.
Anonymous said…
I'm glad there are people willing to stand up for taxpayers.

Keep up the good work.
Patti Martinson said…
What would the legislature do without lobbyists telling them what to do?

Does that mean they would be forced to listen to the voters?
Anonymous said…
pat yourself on the back, pat. you champion a lot of idiot causes.
been there said…
I suspect most who are writing here are not, or never have been legislators. This is excellent legislation, and long overdue. The LRC and the legislators generally write the bills, not one of the governor's aides or lawyers. I was in the legislature for 4 years. This is about the neccessary seperation of powers. If there is a flaw in a bill, the government lobbyists could still catch it and testify to such in committee. And it has no affect on non-government lobbyists.
I suspect those writing here to bash this must be government employees. Who else would oppose it?? The reason the list of sponsors is rather short and lacking in "high profile" members is simple. They fear repurcusion from the governor. This one does it, just like janklow and others in the past. It takes more guts to sign a bill like this than nearly any other. I know, I've been there.
PP said…
12:26, I was championing anything? I was just pointing it out.
Anonymous said…
The funny thing to watch is how the blue badge comes off and is replaced by the white badge, same guy, same issue...doesn't the govs office deserve a cut when the color changes?
Anonymous said…
So say the Gov's office proposes a bill. I'll use this year's bill to allow kids to students on their parents health insurance until age 29 as an example, but it can be any bill. It's the governor's bill, and so his staff is obviously for it. Meanwhile, the insurance lobby is against it (I don't know if that's true - it's my example). So if this passes, one side - the insurance lobby - can lobby to their heart's content, but the other side - the governor - cannot do the same. That leads to bad legislation.

And when you have a legislature that closes hearings to the public and passes dozens of mysterious amendments without any public testimony or input, the only way the executive branch can influence legislation is to lobby outside of the committee room. Remember - that actually happened last year - and it led to several inexplicable mistakes in the budget bill that could have been cleared up had the exectuive branch been given input.
Anonymous said…
I agree with 6:52 PM. With Sand leading the charge and sponsors like Hackel, Davis, Napoli and Apa I don't think we have to worry about this legislation making it through the entire process.
Anonymous said…
I haven't had a chance to read the bill myself, so I can't comment directly on the bill.

But couldn't people in these gov't offices hire a lobbyist just like every other organization? (out of their own pockets of course and not using gov't dollars)

I was in Pierre last week and there were more blue badges walking around vs. those grey badges that are hired by companies or groups to lobby for them.

There has to be a way to limit all of the blue badges walking around.
lexrex said…
8:28, that leads to another question, should the executive branch have the power to introduce legislation?

i don't think it's that way in congress.

maybe it would be best if the gov or some other dept. wants to introduce legislation, they ought to go out and find a legislator to sponsor it for them, just like everybody else has to do.
Anonymous said…
There are several good lobbyist that also wear a blue badge as they have a contract with the state to lobby. They also lobby for private companies or individuals. I would suggest that they take a look at this and make lobbyists decide, do they want to lobby for the state or the private folks. In some cases their loyalty is divided and in others they are on the inside which gives them an unfair advantage. Lawyers in pierre and a couple of lobbyists from sioux falls are the biggest offenders. Just take a look at the public lobbyists list and it's not hard to come up with them.
Anonymous said…
The taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the blue badges to lobby legislators. Lobbying is not in the job descrption for state employee postings that I have seen.

This bill would still allow for an exchange of information between legislators and departments and for testimony in committee.
Anonymous said…
It would be interesting to see how many bills that are brought by a legislator to increase spending are lobbied against by these blue badgers. I suppose if I was a legislator who was trying to pork something up for my district, I wouldn't want somebody providing information to other legislators who might not like my pork.
Anonymous said…

You're initials aren't JS are they? How is the government gravy train treating you these days?

As for legislators porking it up for their district...this isn't Congress. In South Dakota we don't have excessive earmark abuse...however there are a couple issues...

Besides Marion needs to reach down...grab his sack and kill that stuff...

The thought that we actually have to pay lobbyists (blue badgers) to protect us against bad spending bills is proof positive that Governor Rounds needs to grow pair!

The Gov can veto a bad spending bill if he doesn't like it. And then he can get his staff to get on the stick and communicate his message to them or do it himself.

We don't need government subsidized lobbyists taking taxpayer money to influence legislation.

Or more lawyers in Pierre getting 5 to 20k just to do what the Gov's staff should be doing for him.

Blue badgers are a subsidy program for Pierre attorney's who can't make enough on the old fashioned way anyway.
Anonymous said…
Just a clarification:
Blue Badgers are mostly state employees and are doing their jobs. Yes, there are hired blue badges but not very many.
Anonymous said…
anon 1:50

Obviously someone has not been to the capitol lately. I was there this past week and the blue badges were all over the place.
Anonymous said…

Doesn't matter!

First the ones that are on special contract need to go. We don't need more government subsidized lawyers when we already have the Governor's staff and 292 other state employee registered lobbyists to take care of state business.

Do we need to pay a dozen more special contracts lawyers when we already have 292 registered state employee lobbyists? No!

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