We’ve been having a pleasant conversation with Republican District 19 Senate candidate Stace Nelson from Fulton about putting Cabinet secretaries up for election and consolidating some state offices. But Nelson isn’t the first legislator to propose such reforms.
Back in 1999, Democratic Rep. Ron Volesky offered House Bill 1202, which would have given South Dakotans the chance to elect their Secretary of Agriculture. That bill died in committee. In 2007, Democratic State Senator Frank Kloucek from Scotland proposed the similar Senate Bill 194. The Department of Agriculture and Big Ag (oops, sorry, redundant) hated that idea, and Kloucek’s proposal failed in committee.
In 2000, Republican Rep. Clarence Kooistra offered HB 1248, to subject the Secretary of Education to election. In 2014, a coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans, including Nelson, supported Rep. Jim Bolin’s HB 1098 for the same purpose. Both bills died in committee.
In 2010, Democrats proposed two constitutional amendments to consolidate state government. Senator Kloucek offered Senate Joint Resolution 4 to combine the state treasurer and state auditor into one office, a state comptroller, like Illinois has. Senator Scott Heidepriem offered SJR 6 to combine the treasurer with the commissioner of school and public lands. Both resolutions died in committee… but Senator Gary Hanson (Gary D. Hanson* from Sisseton, not Gary W. Hanson from Sioux Falls, who was in the Legislature back in the 1980s but was on the PUC when these measures came up) voted for both.
Readers, can you recall any other bills to either subject Cabinet secretaries to election or combine state executive positions? If so, submit your examples below! Maybe we can give candidate Nelson some more good ideas.
*Update 09:24 CDT: I originally confused my Gary Hansons. Bob Mercer straightened me out. Thanks, Bob!