PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Senate could move quickly next week in deciding whether and how to discipline a suspended member.
Senators voted 27-6 on Thursday to temporarily take away all privileges from Republican Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller.
Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck told KELOLAND News that he and Republican Sen. David Wheeler will work this weekend on rules that he hopes can be presented to the Senate on Monday when legislators return to the Capitol.
Schoenbeck serves as Senate president pro tem and is the chamber’s highest-ranking member. He said he also intends on Monday for a select committee to be appointed that will quickly hold a hearing where Frye-Mueller can present a defense.
He wants the committee to finish within 48 hours and deliver recommendations to the full Senate, with the matter wrapped up no later than Thursday or Friday. The committee could recommend that she be expelled, censured, disciplined or exonerated. Should she resign, the committee would be dismissed.
He said the discipline and expulsion rules that the Senate used for the Dan Sutton hearing in 2007 could be a starting point. The Senate censured the Flandreau Democrat for sharing a bed with a male legislative page.
While suspended, Frye-Mueller can’t present any legislation at committee hearings or be on the Senate floor when the chamber is in session, Schoenbeck said.
Schoenbeck said he’s shared information with both of the Republican and Democrat Senate caucuses about the conversation Frye-Mueller allegedly had about vaccines with a Legislative Research Council staff member. He said the 27-6 vote Thursday reflected that.
“Certainly there’s no partisan aspect to this,” Schoenbeck said.
Senate rules say that:
Adoption of a select committee report for the expulsion of a senator requires the favorable vote of a two-thirds majority of the 35 elected members.
Adoption of a select committee report for the censure or discipline of a senator requires the favorable vote of a three-fifths majority of the elected members.
Adoption of a select committee report for the exoneration of a senator requires the favorable vote of a majority of the elected members.