Lawmakers deadlock on tech scholarship billHouse and Senate leaders dug in their heels against each other Thursday over a proposal for technical institute scholarships in critically needed fields.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
House and Senate leaders dug in their heels against each other Thursday over a proposal for technical institute scholarships in critically needed fields.
A House-Senate conference committee deadlocked, as Rep. Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, and Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg, refused to support ongoing funding for the program.
Gosch is the speaker pro tem, the No. 2 presiding officer in the House. Cronin is the House Republicans’ assistant leader.
The legislation, Senate Bill 77, was sponsored by Senate Republican leader Russ Olson of Wentworth and Rep. Mitch Fargen of Flandreau, the House Democrats’ assistant leader.
Conference committees have three members from each chamber. The rules require at least two of the three members from each chamber approve a motion. That proved to be the sticking point.
Four of the committee members — Olson, Fargen, Senate Democratic leader Jason Frerichs of Wilmot and Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell — supported the bill, while Gosch and Cronin formed a bloc opposite them.
Fargen tried to insert $1 million into the bill for 200 scholarship slots, but that was beaten back. The same result came when Vehle tried $500,000.
Vehle ran into the same roadblock again when he asked the committee to request new members be appointed. Gosch got the reverse treatment when he asked the committee to recommend against reappointing. Cronin’s turn at failure came when he recommended the committee issue a no-recommendation report.
At that point, a 15-minute recess was called. The committee returned and Olson began by apologizing for previously saying Gosch’s comments were “shallow.”
Olson said he meant to say they “weren’t sound.”
Olson ended the matter by asking for a motion to adjourn. The six legislators walked away.
No one seemed too sure about what the report would say, other than they couldn’t agree — or what would happen next.