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Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) faces new criticism from South Dakota Freedom Caucus members, who say she’s “overstepped” her constitutional authority by circumventing part of the legislative process.
One state lawmaker said the criticism could complicate a presidential bid for Noem in 2024.
In a statement released by the Freedom Caucus last week, members said, “A battle has ensued in the South Dakota Legislature, and tensions are escalating.”
The group is challenging the constitutional authority of Noem’s executive agencies to sponsor legislation in the state legislature.
It says Noem and her agencies have “overstepped their authority” by exploiting a loophole in the state lawmaking process that allows agencies to introduce bills without a legislative sponsor, an act some Republicans in the state say is crossing the line too frequently into an area that should be controlled by elected officials.
The concerns from the Freedom Caucus come after the state’s Department of Labor and Regulations introduced two bills with the Commerce and Energy Committee without any legislative sponsor. Instead of first putting the measure to a committee vote, the chairman of that committee sent the bill to the House floor for a full vote without committee consent.
“The governor and the executive agencies seem to conveniently forget we have three branches of government, not one,” said Rep. Tina Mulally, treasurer of the Freedom Caucus, who argued against the bills in a committee hearing. “It’s the difference between a Republic and a despotism.”
Ian Fury, a spokesman for Gov. Noem, told Fox News Digital, “state agencies are following the same process that has been used for decades, committee members introduce all bills.”