Municipal League ED suing Speaker of the House with Lust. Will the court consider telling the Legislature what to do?

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.

Read the entire story here.

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.

Read that here.

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.

26 thoughts on “Municipal League ED suing Speaker of the House with Lust. Will the court consider telling the Legislature what to do?”

  1. Doesn’t Yvonne have a clue that her actions will hurt her more in the long rn…I can think of many ways within the rules that her actions will hurt her client’s interests.

    Just apologize to the speaker and move on…

    When in a hole quit digging…

    1. It’s not Taylor who’s in the hole here, it’s Haugaard. He’s clearly violated her first amendment rights, and has lost the respect of his chamber in just two short weeks.

      Taylor was right about the 20% wackies. They will support the actions of the Speaker, but the other 80% realize he screwed up big-time. Taylor will gain an extra level of support from them.

      It’s Haugaard who needs to apologize, and then hope it goes away.

  2. Why is there a sergeant at arms if everyone can be on the floor all the time?

    I agree the courts should stay out of this fight–separation of powers issue

  3. America was founded by political dissenters. They so respected the importance of political dissent that they enshrined it in the very first amendment to our Constiution.
    Political dissent is not just an important right of every member of the public, the power of that dissent makes us stronger. Legislators do better when they have to deal with dissenting perspectives. They are forced to see perspectives that might otherwise escape them
    The Speaker violated the United States Constiution by retaliating against a member of the public, another South Dakotan, who dared to dissent. The misbehavior of the Speaker of our South Dakota House of Representatives is inexcusable. He was given an opportunity to walk it back and gracefully accept our Constiution. He declined. He has made his proverbial bed.

    1. Political dissent yes, calling names, no. Anyone calling legislators names because they disagree, and then crying when there are consequences is basically very insecure. Let’s have a little decorum in the state capitol.

      1. The legislatures are morons. 80% of them, at least. They call citizens names, they should not be such snowflakes. This Haugaard fellow is a tiny snowflake.

  4. And all of this coming from a thin-skinned Speaker who is a lawyer. Amazing! Must have skipped the day in class when they studied Civil Rights and 1983 actions? The courts will indeed weigh in when something so fundamental is involved that has no real political underpinning.

    While we’re adding to it, perhaps the House should reconsider the “no cleavage” rule (Speaker gets distracted from his high perch at the front of the room) and the “no bare legs” rule (explains the pop-up kiosks selling L’eggs pantyhose at several local hotels). Would have been more in keeping with Haugaard’s style to ban pantsuits because, as we all know, such clothing option is highly favored by Hillary Clinton!

  5. This one is on the Speaker. Yes, the House can set it’s own rules, and I also tend to believe that they could ban individuals from the floor for egregious behavior. But Yvonne writing something in her newsletter is not egregious or even threatening.

    1. I couldn’t resist. I almost changed it to “pursuing with Lust,” but I’d already written it.

  6. What part of this oath does the Speaker not understand?
    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of South Dakota…..

  7. They both made mistakes but this lawsuit makes it worse. All she is doing is galvanizing a large group of legislators against her and more importantly the Municipal League.
    She even may win the battle here but she will lose the war.
    Perhaps she knows her fate and has chosen to become a martyr for all other lobbyists.
    If you can’t go to the capitol and be prepared to kiss every legislator’s ass up there you won’t get what you want.
    Sad but so very true!

    1. I actually think it will help her with the legislature. The 20% that she referred to as “wackies” will probably support the Speaker, but the other 80% think he’s overstepped his authority, and will likely feel bad that she was treated that way.

        1. We could but some people who can’t stand opposition, or are frustrated at their bills being rejected, strikes back by resorting to name calling. Thus this sides are formed that has nothing to do with legislation.

    2. I doubt this will “galvanize” the legislature against her or the municipal league. I think most people, legislators or not, understand what the problem is – he’s got thin skin and he’s abusing his power after just a few weeks. The First Amendment is fundamental to our lives, whether people actually understand it or not. It’s embarrassing that he is lawyer and a leading member of the party. Did he get support from the other members before he banned her or did he act unilaterally? Not a good way to start off the legislative session.

  8. I f she prevails, and it seems likely that she will, Haugaard should be required to reimburse the state for the legal fees it will have to pay to Lust.

  9. Why is it we are hearing only her side of the story?
    She says it was over something she published 8 months ago when it might be something she did 8 days ago.
    Who knows?
    And how is this a violation of her First Amendment rights?
    The First Amendment allows you to say anything you want; it doesn’t mean anybody else has to put up with your BS.
    She can continue to write and publish anything she wants. She will just have to do it outside.

    1. “How is this a violation of her First Amendment Rights?”

      First Amendment jurisprudence prohibits government constraint or prosecution for certain types of protected speech.

      While I agree that the First Amendment doesn’t mean people have to “put up with your BS,” it does protect persons in their speech and publication against official government action. The Speaker has every right to ban Ms. Taylor from his private property. What makes this seem to run afoul of the First Amendment is the Speaker, in his official capacity as Speaker of the House, banned her from the House Floor. That’s an official government action which has the effect of constraining speech.

      I think the more interesting legal question here is whether Ms. Taylor’s speech is political speech, which is protected, or commercial speech, which has much less First Amendment protection.

  10. I think the reason we are hearing her side of the story is because it is factual. Haugaard has had ample opportunity to counter her allegations but has failed to do so. His arrogance stunning. I’m beginning to understand why 2.3 million was put into the extraordinary litigation fund. LOL

  11. When this first broke, my strong advice for them was to meet, reach an agreement, and get it behind them. This will not end well.

  12. I think she was generous at keeping it at 20 percent. He must have pretty thin skin if “wacky” threatens him to this point. I’m sure she could use much more scathing adjectives than that.

    God help us all when he’s the one setting the agenda.

  13. Truth be told is that she said nothing different than most every lobbyist up there. The difference is that she wrote it and sent it a public newsletter. On one hand, maybe not real discreet, but on the other hand she speaks the truth and is much more transparent than every other lobbyist who advises their clients behind closed doors.

    If this gets her kicked off, then what do they do with Gun Owners lobbyists who actually do lie about legislators?

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