To answer this question most of us would have gone out the South Dakota Legislative Research Council (LRC) web site and done a quick search.
Let’s have a look at HB 1198, it could be any bill, however, this bill was heavily lobbied, and debated.
House Bill 1198
provide for the state and local enforcement of certain federal immigration laws, to criminalize the knowing transportation, concealment, or solicitation of illegal aliens, and to provide penalties therefor.
01/27/2011 First read in House and referred to House State Affairs H.J. 197
02/14/2011 Scheduled for hearing
02/14/2011 State Affairs Deferred to the 41st legislative day, Passed, YEAS 11, NAYS 2. H.J. 368
That would be great, if that is all of what really happened.
On February 16th a motion was made to bring the bill to the full house for debate (rule 7?7, smoke-out) with a roll call vote. There was enough support for the roll call vote; names were called, votes were cast and recorded. There was not enough support to bring the bill to the full house for consideration, thus the bill died.
The Smoke-out attempt and the voting record was supposed to posted to the on-line status, but there was an error and the voting results didn’t get posted.
This caught the attention of Representative Stace Nelson (Dist.-25) Who promptly, according to his Facebook post, contacted James Fry, Director of the SDLRC and the correction was made.
On Feb 16th I notified Mr. Jim Fry, the Director of LRC of this omission. On Feb 17th I received his response that it was a programming error and that they were reviewing the policy. I was subsequently notified in person by Mr. Fry that the results were properly posted on the site as appropriate, he reiterated that it was a programming error, and that the details of this major action to the bill were officially posted. I confirmed that the motion and results were properly annotated on the status page, at which time I forwarded the link to several constituents and concerned voter groups.
Okay, so where are the results of the full house smoke out vote? Repersentive Nelson asked this same question and got this:
When LRC developed the policies surrounding the Bill Status Page and what it would display, the SOP was that nothing after final disposition would be added to the Status. In the case of HB 1198, final disposition was its deferral to a nonexistent legislative day. Apparently, a smoke-out was attempted but it failed. Therefore, nothing changed in regard to the Bill?s final disposition.
In this, as in all other cases, nothing is being hidden because the Bill Status reflects the actual status of the Bill which is that it died in committee.
I would be alright with that for now, if that is the current policy, then it is what it is, until the policy gets changed.
Except for these nagging little details:
Again from Representative Nelson Facebook post:
He(Mr. Fry) followed up his response on Feb 28th (see above) with verbal statements that the House record reflects the action to the bill and therefore they do not need to be reflected online. He also immediately claimed that he did not change the record at the request of legislators who did not want their voting records known, even though no comments were made that would have elicited such a comment and his original assessment of posting the results on Feb 17th included staff consultation.
(my emphasis added)
Then Representative Nelson spoke to the Executive Board, about the issue and somehow get the results of that vote posted on-line and that effort was picked up by the Rapid City Journel after that story went to press, James Fry, the LRC Director prohibited the LRC staff website programmer to provide Representative Nelson and another legislator requested information needed to advocate the change.
Now I smell a rat!
If this was case of simple confusion over the policy or SOP I would fine with that, there was a lot of new lawmakers on the floor this year, and there is bound to be some confusion. However, it would appear some legislators did not want their vote known to the general public, or at least a bit more difficult to get at.
Every vote my legislative representatives makes, be it to smoke-out a bill, or where to go for lunch/dinner is my(our) business. I should be able to find this vote, on-line without traveling to Pierre and interrogating LRC staff.
Updated July 8,2011 9:40 AM
From Bob Mercer’s comment:
In followup, I looked through the House journal for Feb. 16. The motion and vote aren?t there. Neither is a rat. The House journal for Feb. 15 shows the motion and the vote. The motion by Rep. Manny Steele failed, with 19 yes in support of his motion and 48 no against. Every name is there.
About a third of he way down the page.
Yeas 19, Nays 48, Excused 3, Absent 0
Bolin; Brunner; Gosch; Greenfield; Haggar; Hubbel; Hunt; Kopp; Liss; Magstadt; Munsterman; Nelson (Stace); Olson (Betty); Rozum; Russell; Sigdestad; Steele; Venner; Verchio
Abdallah; Blake; Boomgarden; Carson; Conzet; Cronin; Deelstra; Dennert; Dryden; Fargen; Feickert; Feinstein; Gibson; Hansen (Jon); Hawley; Hickey; Hoffman; Hunhoff (Bernie); Iron Cloud III; Jones; Juhnke; Killer; Kirschman; Kloucek; Lucas; Lust; Miller; Moser; Novstrup (David); Perry; Romkema; Schaefer; Schrempp; Sly; Solum; Street; Stricherz; Tornow; Tulson; Turbiville; Van Gerpen; Vanneman; White; Wick; Willadsen; Wink; Wismer; Speaker Rausch
Elliott; Jensen; Kirkeby
I’m good with all of that.
Where I run into problems is why did Mr. Fry make the statement to Representative Nelson about why the info was removed from the bill status page? Why deny Representative Nelson access to the web programmer? There well may be perfectly reasonable explanations for all of this. Mr. Fry may have been trying to head off any speculation or confrontation as to reasons for the change. The web programmer(s) may have been swamped with work (at the time) that they could not take time to answer questions from Legislators and Mr. Fry was trying to keep his employees focus on their work. If that is the case, then there is nothing here.