South Dakota State Rep. and Senator-elect Bill Napoli said he plans
to introduce legislation to restrict political advertising on radio and TV to
the 60-day period prior to the election.
Napoli said he thinks his proposal, expected to be introduced early next
year, will pass constitutional muster.
"I'm not restricting anyone's speech," he added, "only the time of that
speech. I believe there is a strong government interest in open, honest and
decent elections. To me, this is no different from regulation of pornography."
Napoli cited lower voter turnout among the negative fallout from the
highly contentious -- and expensive -- recent elections.
Steve Willard, lobbyist for the South Dakota Broadcasters Association, said
he likes Napoli, whom he called "a real firebrand and very sincere," but he will
oppose the legislation. Although Willard agreed with many of Napoli's
perceptions that the election was "out of control," albeit a multimillion-dollar
windfall for state broadcasters, Napoli's idea is clearly an unconstitutional
restriction on political speech, he added.
Even Napoli -- a longtime state politician who admitted to being "a right-wing fringe
conservative" generally opposed to government regulation -- said he has a problem
with his own bill. "But this is such a severe problem that I'm willing to go out on a
limb," he added. "I saw the process I love prostituted, and I was embarrassed. But I've
dropped the legislative hammer to my brethren. If they don't like this, come up
with something else."
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