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Senate rejected House pro tem for joint board

PIERRE -- A majority of state senators decided Thursday they didn't want the second-ranking House member to hold an official non-voting seat on an often-powerful joint panel that oversees many activities of the Legislature.

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South Dakota State Capitol

PIERRE - A majority of state senators decided Thursday they didn't want the second-ranking House member to hold an official non-voting seat on an often-powerful joint panel that oversees many activities of the Legislature.

The Senate voted 18-14 against the plan to make the House speaker pro tem automatically an ex officio member of the Executive Board.

The rejection came despite an assurance from Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark.

"There was no nefarious intent," he said.

Greenfield is the Senate president pro tem who automatically serves on the board and automatically is its chairman this year. He was the lead Senate sponsor on HB 1001.

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No senator called for reconsideration, which could have led to a re-vote, after the Senate clerk announced results from the roll call.

The House of Representatives had approved it 66-0 on Jan. 16.

The split between the two chambers reflected anew the rivalry that has run for decades.

There are eight representatives and seven senators on the Executive Board. The automatic non-voting member provision for the House speaker pro tem would have applied if the lawmaker hadn't already been on the board.

The board's chairmanship rotates annually between the House speaker and the Senate president pro tem.

Representatives elect the House speaker. Senators elect the president pro tem.

The House speaker chairs the board during the first year each term. The Senate president pro tem is chairman the second year.

Greenfield described adding the House speaker pro tem as "a good government provision."

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House members elect the speaker pro tem to serve as the assistant to the speaker. The speaker presides over floor sessions of the House, unless the speaker hands the gavel to the speaker pro tem to be the presiding officer.

Traditionally the speaker pro tem has risen to the post of speaker for the next two-year term if the lawmaker is re-elected by voters in the legislative district.

The current speaker is Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls. The speaker pro tem is Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls.

Haugaard won a closed-door caucus held by House Republicans in December to choose a new speaker pro tem after Don Haggar, R-Sioux Falls, resigned from the House last year. Haggar was speaker pro tem.

Greenfield explained during the Senate debate Thursday that the rotation set in law for the board's chairmanship means a new speaker must be ready from day one to lead the board during the first year.

Greenfield said it made sense to have the speaker pro tem as a non-voting member to watch how the board works.

But Sen. Jeff Partridge, R-Rapid City, warned that giving a permanent non-voting seat to the speaker pro tem would upset the political balance on the board between the House and the Senate.

That criticism came despite Partridge's name on the legislation as a co-sponsor. He voted against the change. So did two other co-sponsors: Senate Republican Leader Blake Curd, of Sioux Falls, and Senate Democratic Leader Billie Sutton, of Burke.

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Sen. Joshua Klumb, R-Mount Vernon, asked Greenfield what happens during an executive session the board could hold.

"I believe that would be subject to the determination of the body, quite frankly," Greenfield replied.

Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, holding the gavel as Senate president, interjected that an ex officio member would be part of the board in most systems and therefore could attend closed-door meetings.

Klumb eventually voted for it. But a combined majority from the two major political parties chose to kill it.

Republican senators voting no were Justin Cronin, of Gettysburg; Bob Ewing, of Spearfish; Terri Haverly, of Rapid City; Ernie Otten, of Tea; Art Rusch, of Vermillion; Deb Soholt, of Sioux Falls; Alan Solano, of Rapid City; Larry Tidemann, of Brooking; Jim White, of Huron; Jordan Youngberg, of Madison; Partridge and Curd.

All six Democratic senators voted no. They were Jason Frerichs, of Wilmot; Troy Heinert, of Mission; Craig Kennedy, of Yankton; Kevin Killer, of Pine Ridge; Reynold Nesiba, of Sioux Falls; and Sutton.

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