PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A special committee has scheduled two days of meetings next week for testimony about whether Senate Republican leader Kris Langer and Senate president pro tem Brock Greenfield were intoxicated while conducting business in the South Dakota Capitol during the final night and early morning of the 2020 legislative session.
The nine senators chosen by their caucuses to conduct the investigation will meet by teleconference, starting at 9 a.m. CT Tuesday, April 21, and at 9 a.m. CT Friday, April 24. Witnesses who wish to testify remotely must schedule their appearances by Monday through an email to Rachael.Person@sdlegislature.gov.
The meetings also will be conducted in room 414 of the Capitol. Attendance in the room will be limited to less than 10 people because of coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions.
The committee will look into allegations raised around 3 a.m. CT March 31 by Senator Phil Jensen, a Rapid City Republican, and into a formal probe that Senator Jim Bolin of Canton, who is Senate Republican assistant leader, and House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte requested.
The Legislature’s Executive Board voted 12-1 on April 2 to grant the Bolin-Qualm request. Greenfield, who is the board’s co-chair, and Langer are members but didn’t participate in the board’s final vote that was held after a closed session. Greenfield and Langer had voted earlier in the teleconference on other matters, including selection of a new director for the Legislative Research Council.
Senator Art Rusch, a Vermillion Republican, will chair the investigation panel. He is a retired state circuit judge. Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert of Mission will be vice chair.
The other committee members are Republican senators Jim Stalzer of Sioux Falls, Margaret Sutton of Sioux Falls, Jim White of Huron, and Bolin; and Democratic senators Red Dawn Foster of Pine Ridge, Craig Kennedy of Yankton and Susan Wismer of Britton.
The Executive Board set a June 30 deadline for the committee to file a report. Langer, from Dell Rapids, and Greenfield, a Clark Republican, don’t have Republican or Democratic challengers for re-election this year.
Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, in his role as Senate president, ruled Jensen’s motion was out of order. Jensen had been among a handful of Republican senators who were in the Senate chamber for most of the day March 30.
The senators, who also included Lance Russell of Hot Springs and Jeff Monroe of Pierre, left as the House of Representatives held hearings into the evening.
Governor Kristi Noem had introduced 10 new bills that day for emergency action because of COVID-19.
Most legislators stayed away from the Capitol that day and night, choosing to participate remotely through internet technology.
Greenfield and Langer were at the Capitol.
Several Republican and Democratic House members who were at the Capitol told KELOLAND News about what they were seeing that night and early morning.
A KELOLAND News reporter then went to committee room 412 and watched Langer and Greenfield participate in a House-Senate conference committee, then went to committee room 413 and watched the matter involving Langer, Greenfield and Rhoden in the room, and Jensen making his attempt over the remote technology.
Representative Bob Glanzer, a Huron Republican, was in the hospital at the time because of illness associated with COVID-19 infection. He died Friday, April 3.
Governor Noem has asked South Dakotans to fly flags at half-staff Monday on the day of Representative Glanzer’s funeral.