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Klumb joins Republican leadership role for first time

New year, new Legislature, new role for Josh Klumb. Klumb, a Republican from Mount Vernon, will enter his second term in the State Senate this year. He has served in the Legislature for District 20 since 2015 and is one of four Republican majorit...

State Sen. Joshua Klumb, of Mount Vernon, speaks at a cracker barrel session in 2017 at City Hall. (Republic file photo)
State Sen. Joshua Klumb, of Mount Vernon, speaks at a cracker barrel session in 2017 at City Hall. (Republic file photo)

New year, new Legislature, new role for Josh Klumb.

Klumb, a Republican from Mount Vernon, will enter his second term in the State Senate this year. He has served in the Legislature for District 20 since 2015 and is one of four Republican majority whips. It's the first time Klumb has served in a leadership role in the state legislature.

Prior to his November re-election, Klumb, 34, said he would be interested in being a part of the leadership contingent in his party in the Senate.

"It's something I'm looking forward to," he said. "I haven't really sought much advice and there's stuff I'm sure I'll learn. I probably won't be perfect because nobody is, but I think it's something I'm going to enjoy."

The Republican Senate leadership includes Kris Langer as majority leader and Jim Bolin as assistant majority leader. Klumb is joined by District 8 senator Jordan Youngberg, of Madison, Bob Ewing, of Spearfish, and Al Novstrup, of Aberdeen, as majority whips.

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Traditionally, a political "whip" is someone who encourages or enforces that a fellow member of their party to vote with them issues but Klumb said he hasn't observed that kind of pressure in Pierre from fellow legislators.

"Nobody has ever said you must vote X," Klumb said. "There's definitely a Republican point of view to be considered, but nobody is going to come down on you if you don't vote a certain way."

Republicans hold a supermajority in both parts of the Legislature, with 30 of the 35 senators and 59 of the 70 members of the House. In the Senate, Troy Heinert, D-Mission, is the minority leader, while Jamie Smith, D-Sioux Falls, is the Democrats' leader in the House.

Klumb said he will be a liaison to about six or seven Republican senators in his whip position. He acknowledged that the Senate is a pretty small group to begin with, but he's looking forward to working more closely with some of his Republican colleagues.

"We haven't really had many of those conversations yet because it's early and we're starting on Monday. We will talk about where we want to go," Klumb said.

Looking at potential legislation, Klumb said he believes a conversation will be had about re-visiting the sales tax approved a few years ago for teacher's salaries, especially in the light of South Dakota's court victory and approval of online sales tax collection.

Klumb has a history of wrestling with the that half-percent sales tax. He was one of three representatives in the House in 2016 who changed his vote from no to yes on raising the state's sales tax by a half-percent in support of increasing the state's teaching salaries. That helped the bill pass the two-thirds majority needed for a tax increase and eventually sign into law.

"That was one of the things that made it more palatable to me to vote for that," said Klumb.

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Klumb acknowledged a battle could break out again on the sales tax issue, but it's possible a wait-and-see approach could also be part of the plan, given that it's unknown how much revenue will be created by the online sales tax.

"It's a very interesting issue," he said. "We don't want to lower it irresponsibly that we short-change ourselves in the end, but it's important to me to fulfill that pledge. Some people will say, 'Don't do that and use that money and dedicate that to schools,' and you're going to have people on both sides of that issue like we did before. It's pretty much going to be the whole sales tax issue over again."

Klumb said he's also interested to watch the new leadership at the top, as Kristi Noem takes over as the 33rd governor of South Dakota today in Pierre. He said he's briefly talked with her following her election in November.

"I think we're going to see a different administration," Klumb said. "Gov. Daugaard has done a great job but (Noem) is going to do it a little differently. I think it's exciting to sit back and watch, and see how she does things. And if she needs to be challenged along the way, we'll challenge her on it."

Related Topics: MOUNT VERNON
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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