Weather Forecast


Longer SD Senate terms rejected

Al Novstrup

PIERRE -- Skeptical members of the state House of Representatives poked holes Wednesday in a proposal that sought to change Senate terms to four years.

The proposal came from Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen. His plan had previously received approval from the Senate 19-16.

"I believe the voters have spoken on term limits," Novstrup said. "What we're saying is we can reduce turnover."

The House State Affairs Committee voted 11-1 to kill it.

That came after an attempt to endorse it failed 3-9.

"The way I look at it is it gives the legislative branch more standing in policy making," Rep. Scott Munsterman, R-Brookings, said.

The resolution needed approval from both chambers of the Legislature to be placed on the 2014 statewide ballot.

House Speaker Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, said voters have repeatedly rejected important provisions because of ballot clutter. "I would support an effort to keep the ballot a little clearer, shorter, succincter," he said.

Legislative terms of two years have been in place for the Senate and the House since South Dakota gained statehood in 1889.

Novstrup's proposal left the House terms at two years.

Novstrup declined to guess whether voters would support the change for the Senate. He said he's surprised every election.

"I believe it would be appropriate to ask them what they believe on this issue," Novstrup said.

House Democratic leader Bernie Hunhoff, of Yankton, wondered whether more senators would resign early from four-year terms, giving the governor more appointments.

Rep. Dick Werner, R-Huron, said the four-terms would be in line with the terms for governor and state constitutional officers.

Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City, said people will find the proposal confusing. He said they likely will vote against it because they don't understand it.

House Republican leader David Lust, of Rapid City, said the two-year term allows flexibility for legislators and candidates.