PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota redistricting committee, until now working as one unit, broke into bicameral bickering Thursday, Sept. 30, as state House and Senate members adopted variant Sioux Falls conurbation areas, as the Senate moved to adopt a statewide map proposal to bring to voters without the House's consent.
"I'll let you guys do you," said House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, after the seven-member Senate committee that was meeting jointly with the House side on Thursday moved to approve a conurbation map of Sioux Falls without the House's approval.
After going into a 15-minute break, the two sides returned, seemingly on the same page. "We would like to move forward with two suggestions for the Sioux Falls conurbation area," said Senate Chair Sen. Mary Duvall, R-Pierre.
But Sen. Michael Diedrich, R-Rapid City, maintained his desire to move ahead with a Senate-only vote against the wishes of the House members, including Gosch who referred to "consternation" over the conurbation fight in Sioux Falls.
Ultimately, the Senate voted in favor of a conurbation area authored by Sen. Casey Crabtree, R-Madison, that includes all of Sioux Falls and the southern half of Minnehaha County, as well as northern Lincoln County communities.
Duvall then handed the gavel to Gosch, and the House side promptly voted in approval of a proposal from Rep. Drew Dennert, R-Aberdeen, that closely follows the Sioux Falls city lines, with a carve-out of a precinct in the northwest part of the city.
The committee work grew only more cantankerous after the gavel was returned to Duvall, when Sen. Kyle Schoenfisch sought for the Senate to adopt a proposed statewide map that had yet to be made available to the public or committee. In fact, as Gosch pointed out, votes on a statewide map hadn't been mentioned in the meeting agenda.
"If we're going to keep this committee together, we can't be pulling these shenanigans," said Rep. Liz May, R-Kyle.
Gosch also said such a vote would give him cause to "adjourn" the House side.
But Diedrich argued that the map didn't preclude other maps from consideration and simply gave the public an opportunity to begin viewing a "working draft," barely a month away from the redistricting special session.
"All we've done so far is talked, talked, talked, and we haven't done too much," said Diedrich.
The Senate committee approved the map as "a statewide" proposal. Following a short break, the House side adjourned, while the Senate continued.
Both committees are scheduled to tour the state between Oct. 11 and 13 to receive public feedback on the map-making process.