PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Legislature has two very different chambers. And the House of Representatives has made clear, again, that the Senate would be wise to keep that in mind.
That message was delivered with shotgun-blast emphasis this week, as the House blew apart an attempt to restrict out of state travel by lawmakers who aren’t eligible for re-election.
The House on Wednesday voted 60-8 against SB-68. The Senate had passed it 34-0.
Senate president pro tem Lee Schoenbeck was prime sponsor. The lead sponsor in the House was Speaker Hugh Bartels.
The backstory of Schoenbeck’s legislation was a decision last year by the then-House speaker, Spencer Gosch.
Gosch lost a primary election in June. And House Democrats leader Jamie Smith lost his run for governor in November.
That didn’t stop Gosch from approving a December trip to the Council of State Governments convention for Smith and himself.
Schoenbeck called those trips “an abuse of power.”
Traditionally, the Senate president pro tem and the House speaker approve out of state travel by members of their respective chambers.
Schoenbeck wanted to change that somewhat and have legislators no longer eligible for election make those travel requests to the Legislature’s 15-member Executive Board.
The House State Affairs Committee endorsed Schoenbeck’s bill 11-2 on Monday. It was on the House debate calendar Tuesday, but was pushed back to Wednesday.
And that’s when it collapsed. Just six Republicans and two Democrats voted yes.
Bartels was one of them. He said the message was simple.
“They didn’t want senators telling House members what to do,” Bartels said Thursday.
He also glimpsed a bit of silver lining.
“I thought that was a vote for me.”