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Wed Dec 14, 2016, 03:57 AM

South Dakota judge puts government ethics overhaul on hold

PIERRE A South Dakota judge put on hold a voter-approved government ethics overhaul Thursday, handing a victory to foes who have criticized the wide-ranging new law as an unconstitutional, unworkable mess.

Circuit Judge Mark Barnett issued a preliminary injunction at the request of a group of two dozen Republican lawmakers and others who filed a lawsuit against the state challenging it. Barnett's decision to delay the law's implementation could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

"This is just a stop on the bus route," Barnett said. "This is going to a much higher power and a much higher pay grade than me."

Foes of the measure contend that provisions of the law including an ethics commission, public campaign funding and limitations on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers run afoul of the state or federal constitutions or both. The decision is largely what those who brought the lawsuit expected and reflects "how poorly drafted the measure was," said GOP Rep. Mark Mickelson, a plaintiff.

Read more: http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/08/south-dakota-judge-puts-government-ethics-overhaul-hold/95164836/

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