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House Approves Proposal To Overhaul Conflict-of-interest Law

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The House 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 on Tuesday voted 67-1 for the measure, which broadens state law to prohibit state employees or officers 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 state law. It also extends to contracts that don’t include the expenditure of public funds.

Democratic Rep. Peggy Gibson says a failed amendment she pushed to establish a state ethics commission would have helped provide a more open government.

She says the EB-5 visa scandal is still “shrouded in mystery.”