Legislature’s Executive Board sets meeting for Monday to discuss how to replace LRC director

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Pierre Capitol building legislature

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The panel that sets the course for the Legislature during the nine months outside of the annual session will meet Monday at the South Dakota Capitol on a difficult topic.

The Executive Board plans an executive session at 3:30 p.m. CT in room 413 for a closed-door discussion about the next steps to replace Jason Hancock.

Hancock has been director for the Legislative Research Council since Aug. 5, 2014, when he succeeded Jim Fry, who had quit in 2013 under pressure.

Hancock plans to leave Pierre in April, after the 2020 legislative session ends March 30, and return to Boise, Idaho.

The LRC’s non-partisan professional staff works for South Dakota lawmakers in areas such as bill drafting and budget analysis.

Hancock has been hired as deputy to Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, a Republican who served 20 years as a legislator before winning a first term as secretary of state in 2014.

His leaving will be smoother than what Fry went through.

Fry had gone to work on the final day of his 13 years with his resignation letter ready to be handed in, after the LRC received a poor performance review from National Conference of State Legislatures staff.

Fry’s letter sought two more weeks, until October 11, 2013, but the Executive Board’s leadership told him to pack and be out of the office by the end of that day, September 25.

The only LRC director with longer service — 18 years — was Fry’s predecessor, Terry Anderson, who accepted a similar post in Wisconsin in 2000.

The board that same day in 2013 named Fred Schoenfeld as the interim director while they opened a search that ultimately led to hiring Hancock.

Hancock’s current salary of $137,158 is more than the $116,400 that Governor Kristi Noem receives, but less than the $140,315 that state Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson earns, or the $144,012 that Steve Westra gets as the governor’s commissioner of economic development.

Hancock is going back to the state from where came: He was deputy chief of staff for the Idaho education department before the move to South Dakota.

The Executive Board will be one of four legislative committees meeting Monday on the eve of the start of the 2020 session that ends March 30.

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