Citizens can’t participate if government is not open

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By David Bordewyk
South Dakota Newspaper Association

A bill in the South Dakota Legislature that would require all official meetings of government boards and commissions to include time on their agendas for public comment is headed to Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s desk. Legislators already OK’d it.

House Bill 1172 appears straightforward and may beg the question: why is it even necessary? A fair question to ask during this week, which is Sunshine Week, a national observance to shine a light on the public’s right to know about government and what government does.

A survey of newspaper editors and reporters across the state shows that while many government boards already include time on their meeting agendas for public comment, others do not. Often when the meeting topic or agenda item is controversial and there is a room full of people, the inclination may be to not allow public debate out of concern that the meeting will get out of hand.

 

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