By Gov. Dennis Daugaard
As the weather warms and snow shoveling becomes lawn mowing, many South Dakotans take on spring cleaning projects to ready their homes for the busy, social summer months.
In the past two and a half years, your state government has attempted a spring cleaning of its own. Starting in April, your state agencies pore through statutes and administrative rules looking for unnecessary or confusing laws that can be “cleaned up.”
I am pleased to report that the efforts have been successful. To date, we have identified more than 800 sections of code totaling more than 81,000 words that can be removed or simplified in our codified statutes. In many cases, the sections were unnecessary and served only to clutter our law books.
Further, our state agencies identified more than 1,300 administrative rules that could be eliminated. This reduction in administrative rules will make it easier for businesses and citizens to navigate the rules that surround our laws. In total, nearly 170,000 words were stricken from our state government administrative rules.
Leading our “spring cleaning” effort have been the departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Revenue, Human Services and Social Services. Those state agencies, among many others, should be commended for their strong work in reducing red tape and simplifying the laws that govern all South Dakotans.
Too often, lawmakers and governments feel that they are only productive if they create new laws. They feel that effectiveness is measured by bills passed or programs created. This should not be the case. Good stewards of state government realize that often the best thing government can do is get out of the way.
It is my goal that our statutes be arranged so that any person in South Dakota can find and understand the laws that govern them. It is a necessary component of a healthy and transparent government.
While I am governor, we will continue our annual spring cleaning of laws and rules in South Dakota.