Lawmakers set schedule for hiring a new director of South Dakota Legislature staff

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Lawmakers who oversee operations of the South Dakota Legislative Research Council agreed Thursday on a plan for hiring a new director.

The current director, Jason Hancock, plans after the 2020 session ends March 30 to return to Idaho, where he will be deputy secretary of state in charge of elections.

The council serves as the year-round professional staff for the Legislature, which holds its annual sessions from January through March and has committee meetings at various times the other nine months of the year.

The Legislature’s Executive Board approved posting the vacancy at the LRC website sdlegislature.gov, the state government Bureau of Human Resources website, the state Department of Labor and Regulation website, the National Conference of State Legislatures jobs-clearinghouse website and the Council of State Governments “Stateline Midwest” publication.

The board will also have the Council of State Governments regional office email the information to Midwest states’ legislative directors.

Monday, March 9, is the last day to apply for the position, according to Senator Brock Greenfield, a Clark Republican who chairs the Executive Board this year.

Greenfield said director Hancock and Executive Board members will review applications the week of March 9-12. The board will meet March 12 in closed-door session to determine who receives interviews.

The remainder of the timeline hasn’t been set, according to Greenfield.

A possible schedule the board considered Thursday calls for interviews starting approximately March 18 and continuing as necessary through about March 25.

Reference checks would be conducted and salary requirements would be determined March 26-27, under the tentative plan, and the board would meet again March 30, after the 2020 session ends, to discuss making an offer, including the potential salary.

Greenfield said he assigned five of the board’s members to review the Legislative Research Council’s current status, such as what works well and what could possibly be strengthened.

Senator Jim White, a Huron Republican, will head the subgroup. Others are Representative John Mills, a Volga Republican; Representative Sue Peterson, a Sioux Falls Republican; Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert of Mission; and House Speaker Steven Haugaard, a Sioux Falls Republican and the board’s co-chairman.

The application advertisement distributed to the board Thursday covers four standard pages of paper. It described the agency, the position, compensation and benefits, qualifications and the community of Pierre and the application requirements.

“We think we know the direction we’re moving now relative to the vacancy that will occur with director Hancock’s departure,” Greenfield said during the meeting after the board re-opened its closed session. 

“We will be soliciting applications until March 9. We will then proceed by reviewing those applications and beginning the process of who to choose to interview in person, and go from there,” Greenfield said. 

Hancock previously worked for the Idaho Department of Education. He started as LRC director August 5, 2014, with a salary of $125,000. His current salary is $137,158. He was hired after the board dismissed long-time director Jim Fry in 2013 following an outside review by NCSL staff.

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