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Committee Approves Bill To Overhaul Conflict-of-interest Law

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A legislative committee has approved a proposal to overhaul conflict-of-interest laws for South Dakota public employees in response to the investment-for-visa scandal that dominated last year’s U.S. Senate race.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved the measure, which broadens state law to prohibit state employees from directly benefiting from contracts they approve.

Republican Rep. Mark Mickelson says his proposal extends that prohibition for a year after the employee leaves state government, with exceptions.

Mickelson says his proposal strengthens ethics laws in South Dakota and includes harsher penalties for violations. It also extends to contracts that don’t include the expenditure of public funds.

Democratic Rep. Peggy Gibson says she voted for the proposal, but says it doesn’t go far enough. She says her constituents are concerned about the EB-5 scandal.