Lance Koth and Paul Miskimins are among the new faces in the South Dakota Legislature.
Both representing District 20 in the House of Representatives, the two Mitchell Republicans are learning the ropes of the state capitol in Pierre while representing their constituents in Aurora, Davison and Jerauld counties.
Miskimins said one of his most notable moments as a newcomer came prior to his vote on Senate Bill 47, the bill allowing permitless concealed carry of handguns. Miskimins eventually voted no on that bill, but one day prior to the vote, he awoke to more than 210 emails regarding the legislation. Miskimins said the vote reflected that he will stick to his principles above all else.
"I didn't run to get re-elected. I ran to serve," Miskimins said Friday following the District 20 cracker barrel event at Mitchell City Hall. "I don't know all of the answers, but I try to learn as much as I can and to make the best vote I can for the people."
Koth had a similar sentiment, noting that he described his first month on the job in Pierre as being enjoyable and fulfilling.
"I'm challenged, which I knew going in," Koth said. "I have a new respect, and really respect more how our government works and how it has maintained its processes through the years, and I also respect both sides of the aisle and the honest debate that goes on."
A retired banker, Koth has taken on the big challenges of both the House Appropriations and Joint Appropriations committees. During his campaign, Koth showed an interest in the numbers that make up state government, and he interviewed with Speaker of the House Steve Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, for 45 minutes for the assignment prior to the session.
"I like numbers; that's what I did for most of my life and numbers-I get along well with numbers and I like solving problems," Koth said. "With that being said, most and all of the appropriations (members) have that same mentality."
The legislators replaced former representatives Lance Carson and Tona Rozum. Carson, like Koth, spent numerous years in appropriations, and the two have traded notes on best practices, Koth said. He joked Friday that Carson didn't tell him everything he'd need to know for the committee job.
Miskimins is a member of the Commerce and Energy and Health and Human Services committees in the House. The retired dentist said he's appreciated the civility involved with the legislation he's seen so far.
"It's OK to disagree on an issue," he said. "It's not OK to be disrespectful with someone you disagree with. It's about the issue and it's not personal, and we can have beneficial and worthwhile discussions that move forward to better legislation."
The third District 20 member, State Sen. Josh Klumb, R-Mount Vernon, is the veteran of the group now that he's in his third term. He said each of three legislators is different enough that they've made a good group.
"We each bring a little something different to the table, which is great and we're able to bounce ideas off each other," Klumb said. "When we all come from slightly different backgrounds, I think that's good for everyone, to see things a little differently."
During the cracker barrel, Koth talked about the importance of the three branches of government balancing each other and specifically mentioned the Legislature balancing new Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, noting that the governor "doesn't control everything" regarding law-making.
Koth said afterwards that he respects the path Noem is taking, being fiscally responsible much like her predecessor Dennis Daugaard, but said "the devil is in the details" regarding passing legislation.
"There's 105 legislators and a lot of people out there that we represent and each of them have needs," he said. "Right now, we're all on the same page but there will be some real hard and honest debates. We're there for 40 days, as legislators, and we're going to get our work done. We have to."