The Argus Leader is reporting that Yvonne Taylor of the SD Municipal League has filed suit against South Dakota Speaker of the House Steve Haugaard over the revocation of her floor privileges, as a result of her calling legislators ‘wackies’ last year in a column she wrote in the SD Municipal League’s newsletter.
And she has hired former House Majority Leader David Lust to act as her attorney:
Taylor’s lawsuit accuses Haugaard, who is a lawyer, of violating her First Amendment right to free speech and First Amendment retaliation. By banning her from the floor, she is unable to adequately represent her members, the lawsuit says.
“One important aspect of lobbying is circulating bill sponsor sheets and explaining to legislators the bill they are being asked to sponsor,” the lawsuit says. “Legislators sign the bill sponsor sheet in order to become a sponsor of a bill. This activity occurs almost exclusively on the floors of the House and Senate.”
Taylor did not immediately return a message. She is represented by David Lust, a Rapid City lawyer who is a former House Republican majority leader who served in the Legislature with Haugaard.
In the May column, Taylor, who has served as the league’s executive director since 1996, complained that the number of “wackies” in the Legislature were increasing.
Taylor complains about it violating her First Amendment rights… but something that seems to be sticking in my head is a question over “how is the court going to view the ability of the Legislature to grant – or to withdraw – floor privileges?”
The court has given the legislature broad latitude in other internal matters, such as the legislature having the ability to determine the seating of members. So, in light of that, would the court intervene in a case of the Speaker giving the boot for behavior he views as lacking decorum?
That might be the bigger question.
With all of this coming up, I’m also reminded of the previous unhappiness legislators had with the lobbying corps just back in 2017:
Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, brought a proposal before the Senate Committee on Legislative Procedure that would have blocked access to the Senate chamber and hallways on either side for lobbyists representing the state and its various agencies, departments and commissions.
The committee, at the suggestion of Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls, then considered an expanded measure that would also block lobbyists “of any stripe” from the areas between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. He said lobbyist presence on the Senate floor and in one of the hallways adjacent has at times been “destructive and a distraction” to the legislative process.
“I think that any lobbyist here in Pierre either with a white badge or with a blue badge has plenty of access to any elected official. There are plenty of opportunities in the day, between the time the sun rises until it sets, to interact with us,” Curd said.
Just two years ago Senators were ready to clear the floor – and the adjacent hallways – of Lobbyists. Which I think ups the ante for this restlessness, especially considering the House was the more forgiving chamber back then.
Are we going back to those contentious days? Hopefully not.