SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For the first time in state history, a special legislative session will start with the sole purpose of determining whether to impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
Both the House and Senate have to gavel in at 10 a.m. for the special session but then a special House committee will determine whether impeachment should move forward to a full House vote.
That committee consists of six Republican representatives and two Democrat representatives with House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) serving as a tie-breaking vote. KELOLAND News will have updates from Pierre throughout the day online and on-air.
Other members of the committee include Kent Peterson (R-Salem), Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls), Ryan Cwach (D-Yankton), Mike Stevens (R-Yankton), Doug Barthel (R-Sioux Falls), Kevin Jensen (R-Canton), Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls) and Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids).
A simple majority of 36 representatives in the House would be necessary to impeach Ravnsborg, at which time the state Constitution states there’d be “Suspension of duties between impeachment and acquittal.”
The Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 6001 — a “housekeeping” resolution to establish the day-to-day adjournment of the House of Representatives within the impeachment special session.
HR 7001 passed 58-10 with two excused. The 10 Representatives voting no were: Randy Gross (R-Elkton), Steven Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls), Taffy Howard (R-Rapid City), Phil Jensen (R-Rapid City), Chris Karr (R-Sioux Falls), Sam Marty (R-Prairie City), John Mills (R-Volga), Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish), Marty Overweg (R-New Holland) and Bethany Soye (R-Sioux Falls).
Rep. Mary Fitzgerald (R-Spearfish) said she supported HR 7001. Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence) asked “what is an impeachable offense?” He said he’s not sure what he is voting on — Ravnsborg’s two misdemeanors or his loss of political support.
HR 7001 is now being discussed. Rep. Peterson said it gives the committee the power to employ special counsel and charters the committee with writing a written report on impeachment. He supported Mortenson’s amendment.
Mortenson said “we can only have a fair process if it’s a transparent process.”
Mortenson’s amendment passed.
House Concurrent Resolution 6001 passed 65-2 with three excused. It was called a “housekeeping” resolution to establish the day-to-day adjournment of the House of Representatives within the impeachment special session.
The House has returned from recess.
Rep. Mortenson (R-Pierre) has offered another amendment HR 7001B for the committee to “redact all confidential or nonrelevant information from any information received before such information is released to the public.”
The House has recessed for Republican caucus. Rep. Will Mortenson (R-Pierre) has offered an amendment to HR 7001 to make the committee “redact all confidential information” before releasing it to the public.
Mortenson also wants “all members of the House of Representatives shall have nonpublic access to all information gathered by the select committee.”
The Senate has started its special session. It will consider Senate Concurrent Resolution 601 to “period of day-to-day adjournment of the Senate within the Special Session.”
Rep. Peterson has submitted House Resolution 7001 to establish a select committee “to investigate whether articles of impeachment should issue against Jason Ravnsborg.”
The resolution also calls for a special legal counsel chosen by the House speaker. The committee will set its own schedule and will report to the full House whether impeachment should be sought.
A cousin of Joe Boever is watching Tuesday’s special session on possible impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. Nick Nemec has been following both the legal and political process since Boever’s death in September 2020.
Judge John Brown ordered Ravnsborg to pay $1,000 for two misdemeanor counts and more than $3,000 to Hyde County for costs associated with the investigation.
Ahead of Tuesday’s special session, a two-thirds majority, at least 24 of 35 members in the Senate and 47 of 70 members in the House, signed a petition in support of holding a special session on impeachment of Ravnsborg.
Eight Republican Senators were not on a list of names that supported the special session. Gosch has not released the names of representatives who supported the special session.
Impeachment was first brought up during this past session, but lawmakers wanted to wait for the court system to wrap up first. In August, Ravnsborg pleaded “no contest” to two misdemeanor charges and the state dropped a careless driving charge. Ravnsborg had to pay fines and court costs, but did not serve any jail time.
It has been more than a year since Ravnsborg’s car struck and killed Boever on the night of Sept. 12, 2020.