PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Reed Holwegner no longer is director for the South Dakota Legislative Research Council.

The Legislature’s Executive Board on Monday announced Holwegner’s resignation during an emergency teleconference meeting.

The council’s 28 employees serve as the Legislature’s full-time staff. The Executive Board oversees administrative matters during the nine months when lawmakers aren’t in regular session.

Holwegner was hired three years ago to succeed Jason Hancock, who left for a state government position in Idaho. Holwegner was selected on a 8-7 vote over the LRC’S then-deputy director, Sue Cichos, during the board’s April 2, 2020, meeting.

At the time, Holwegner was a member of the Kansas legislative staff, where he was principal policy analyst. He had previously been part of the South Dakota LRC fiscal staff from October 2000 through August 2006. He earlier worked for the Kansas legislative staff from January 1998 through September 2000.

Republican Senator Lee Schoenbeck, the South Dakota board’s vice chair, made the motion to go into a closed-door executive session on Monday.

Upon returning to public session, Schoenbeck made a series of motions that were quickly and unanimously accepted by the 13 lawmakers participating in the meeting.

They accepted Holwegner’s resignation and next decided the board’s executive committee should be responsible for negotiating termination, severance and other issues with him. They then appointed John McCullough, the LRC’s staff counsel, as interim director.

There was no public discussion on any of the motions. The 2024 legislative session opens January 9. A timetable for selecting a new director wasn’t publicly discussed.

Holwegner, whose salary was listed at $170,665, had received a 10% raise in May from the board. McCullough’s salary as code counsel was listed at $159,189.

”Just like to thank the members of the committee for working today and being reactive. Appreciate it,” Republican Rep. Hugh Bartels, who chairs the board, said at the meeting’s conclusion.

Added Schoenbeck, “It’s bi-partisan, bi-whatever two houses, bicameral, working together. Appreciate everybody helping. Many hands make light work.” 

Lawmakers have been concerned about LRC staff turnover and morale for several years.

Minutes from the board’s April 25, 2022, meeting included a summary of what had occurred during a closed-door session that day:

“Senator Schoenbeck said the Director has impressed upon the board the challenges of managing a legislative staff working in a highly charged environment. The commitment of the Executive Board is to have an executive session at each board meeting as needed to address personnel and Human Resource issues regarding LRC staff.”