PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — There won’t be any changes after all to the way that candidates for seven of South Dakota’s statewide elected offices are nominated at political-party conventions.
The Senate voted 29-4 on Tuesday to let die legislation that originally sought to change six of those contests to statewide primary elections.
SB40 also would have let governor nominees choose their running mates rather than have the conventions make the choices.
Instead, delegates to the Republican and Democrat conventions will continue to decide the nominees for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, school and public lands commissioner, and public utilities commissioner.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had approved very different versions of Republican Sen. David Johnson’s bill. He had planned Tuesday to ask for a conference committee, but then realized that would be futile.
“Multiple legislators have been involved in multiple efforts over the weekend, frankly right up until about five minutes ago,” Johnson said. “We have, senators, we have reached impasse with the House. We’ve done everything that we can.”
Johnson faced resistance from Sen. John Wiik, who’s now South Dakota Republican chairman, and from statewide officeholders such as Auditor Rich Sattgast and Lands Commissioner Brock Greenfield.
The Senate on February 15 had sent the bill to the House on an 18-16 vote. But a House committee deleted nearly all of the convention-to-primary changes, leaving just the running-mates piece. The House sent it back 48-21.
Johnson, after talking beforehand with Wiik and with Republican Sen. Brent Hoffman, changed his mind and asked the Senate to not-agree to the House version and to not-appoint a conference committee to try to work out the differences.
Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, presiding over the Senate, asked Johnson whether that was a substitute motion. “Whatever it takes to get this — to get this through, Mr. President,” Johnson answered.
Wiik then stood up and said he would make the substitute motion to not-concur and not-appoint.
“I’m asking for a substitute motion by Senator Wiik at this time,” Johnson said.
The lieutenant governor clarified the motion.
Johnson looked back at Wiik. “We worked hard,” Johnson said, “very amicably, I might add, with the senator from Big Stone City. I’m asking that we do not concur and do not appoint.”
Hoffman asked what the effect of the different motions would be.
“I would like to answer that,” Johnson said. “The effect is that Senate Bill 40 at this point in time will die, and that the statute remains as is this very day.”