Voters have repeatedly supported government integrity measures at the ballot box. I hear you. As governor, I will build on the recent momentum, working to throw open the doors, not only of the state capital, but also encouraging county commission offices and school boards to give you unprecedented access to the government decision-making process at all levels.
For nearly a century, South Dakota was known as “The Sunshine State”, a name sewn into our flag until 1992. I want to embrace the spirit of that motto once again, shedding new light on the inner-workings of state and local government through my Sunshine Initiative.
- Bring Debates from the Boardroom to the Living Room. Too many important decisions are made in small meeting rooms with limited public access. Using free technologies like YouTube and Facebook Live, I will work to bring these meetings into every home, moving toward an aggressive goal of having state board, county commission, and school board meetings live streamed.
- Modernize and Expand Open.SD.gov. Knowledge is power. As governor, I would work with the state legislature to encourage the universal posting of all agendas, minutes, and livestreams to a modernized and easily searchable Open.SD.gov.
- Develop an Online Property Tax Toolkit. Where do your property tax dollars go? To the state? The county? The school district ? Working in collaboration with the Department of Revenue and using Geographical Information System data, my administration would build out a Property Tax Toolkit that would operate as a digital disclosure database. Here, South Dakotans could easily see how many dollars go to the school district, the county, the state, and elsewhere – at anytime. It would be paired with links to available programmatic information as well as updates on how to participate in any public debates.
- Enable Independent Reporting to Hold State and Local Government Genuinely Accountable. Fact-based reporting can be a valuable tool in upholding the integrity of government entities. On the federal level, it helped shine a light on VA abuses against our veterans. In the state, it’s essential in getting to the bottom of the recent EB-5 and GEAR UP scandals. Even so, South Dakota reporters can be forced to testify for investigating important stories. If elected, I would support a commonsense Reporter Shield law, protecting the constitutional right to a free and independent press.
- Limit Confidential Settlement Agreements. You deserve to know how your money is being spent, but current law allows the state to negotiate confidentiality agreements so as to protect wrongdoers – even when your tax dollars are used to pay out a settlement. As governor, I would work to limit the state’s ability to engage in secret transactions like this, allowing it only when necessary to protect a victim’s privacy.
- Review Open Meetings Laws. Executive sessions allow state and local governments to conduct certain business behind closed doors. While necessary in some instances (such as when a school board is discussing hiring or firing personnel ), these sessions should not be used to hide budget discussions and other important debates from public view. As governor, I would conduct a full review of existing open meetings laws and work to move as much official debate as possible into the public domain.