PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The Legislature’s Executive Board voted 15-0 Monday to officially hire Reed Holwegner as the new director for the South Dakota Legislative Research Council at an annual salary of $133,639. He is scheduled to start May 4.
Holwegner succeeds Jason Hancock, who left after the 2020 legislative session to take a new post as Idaho deputy secretary of state. Hancock had moved from Idaho to South Dakota six years ago to oversee the LRC.
Holwegner has been with the Kansas Legislative Research Department two different times, most recently since 2007, and previously worked for the South Dakota Legislative Research Council’s fiscal office for nearly six years. He is a University of South Dakota graduate.
Meanwhile, the Executive Board began planning Monday to hire a successor for Marty Guindon, who plans to retire later this year as auditor general for the state of South Dakota.
Guindon, a 1978 graduate of what is now Northern State University at Aberdeen, has spent his career at the state Department of Legislative Audit. He will be leaving on or about June 8.
The board named a team of six lawmakers to conduct interviews May 4 among applicants from the department’s staff. Guindon’s office serves as the Legislature’s auditing arm of state government spending.
“We have some very talented qualified candidates right inside the department,” House Democratic leader Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls said. He added, “It’s a great place for us to start.”
The plan calls for the interview committee to look inside the department first, then decide whether it needs to search regionally or nationally.
Chairing the selection panel is Senator Bob Ewing, a Spearfish Republican. “I’ve seen you in action. I know you’re very capable as a chair. I don’t have any misgivings about appointing you to that role,” Senator Brock Greenfield, the Clark Republican who currently chairs the board, said.
Republican Representative Sue Peterson of Sioux Falls was chosen as vice chair. Others on the selection panel are Smith, Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert, Republican Senator Jim Bolin of Canton and House Republican Spencer Gosch of Glenham.
In 2001, the Executive Board at the time chose Guindon as auditor general.
His office first documented in a 2014 audit that some work documentation was missing for the GEAR UP program in South Dakota. The federally funded program is intended to help students from lower-income households become aware of further opportunities for education after high school.
The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee began looking into the situation in 2015. The decision that eventually followed, by then-state Education Secretary Melody Schopp to shift the program to Black Hills State University, led to five murders and a suicide at Platte.
Next came closure of the previous sponsor Midcentral Educational Cooperative at Platte, resignations by several state Board of Education members who provided GEAR UP services, a guilty plea by Midcentral’s manager, two criminal trials that resulted in not-guilty verdicts against two other defendants and Schopp’s resignation.