SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Will the South Dakota Legislature need more than 40 days to do its work in the future?
The director of the Legislative Research Council Reed Holwegner said during a Jan. 13 Joint Committee on Appropriations meeting that the committee needs to think about future legislative needs. According to its website, the mission of the LRC “is to provide to the members of the Legislature legal analysis, fiscal analysis, and advice in addition to research, drafting, and budget services in a professional, confidential, and nonpartisan manner.”
The Legislature has made significant technological advances in the past several years, Holwegner said. The discussion also included the LRC’s role and possible staffing needs in the future.
The work of the Legislature has not decreased over the past several years, Holwegner and several lawmakers on the committee said.
Committee member Republican Sen. David Johnson said the future Legislature will have to convene for more than 40 days. The Legislature of 2033 will need to meet more than 40 days, he said.
The Legislature also needs to consider increasing its staff, Johnson said.
When he attends national and regional legislative meetings he talks with lawmakers in other states who have staff in their legislative bodies, Johnson said.
If South Dakota wants to continue to be an economic leader it will need to add more days to the session and more staff, Johnson said.
When the Legislature has been unable to complete its work in 40 days, it may call for a special session.
Holwegner said the Legislature has averaged a special session every other year so far in this century.
Committee member Republican Rep. Chris Karr said the need for a special session is a good point.
While all legislators want to be mindful of growing government, lawmakers must also consider having enough time to do the work, Karr said. Legislators should ask themselves if there is always enough time for the work and if the calendar is used as efficiently as possible, Karr said.
Karr said the calendar session is not always as efficient as it could be.
Committee member Republican Rep. Tony Venhuizen said he appreciates the comments on the length of the legislative session but wants to prioritize being a citizen legislator and not a professional legislator.
“I’m not saying 40 days is the magic number,” Venhuizen said. But if any additional days are considered, the Legislature must keep in mind that South Dakota works so well because legislators are not professionals, he said.