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Haugaard Wants More Power for Legislature, Less Term Limits

Rep. Steven Haugaard, patron saint of Republican virtue and not understanding the practical impact of bills.
Saint Steven, seeking papacy in Pierre?

Representative and Speaker Pro-Tem Steven Haugaard (R-10/Sioux Falls) appeared on South Dakota Public Radio last week and said his “primary interest” is “strengthening the Legislative body” against “the Governor and the bureaucracy out there.”

If Rep. Haugaard really views the Governor and bureaucracy eating into his body’s power (and he may have a case for that), it is interesting that his party is spending more time this election focusing on beating back the check on Legislative power imposed by the people through ballot measures. Amendment X, Amendment Z (both placed on the ballot by Haugaard’s Legislature), and Initiated Measure 24 (placed on the ballot by Speaker G. Mark Mickelson’s petitioning) all seek to weaken the power of citizens to put laws to a direct vote. I suspect there are plenty of citizens who feel the Legislature is already more than powerful enough and should give back some power to the people and local governments.

Incumbent Haugaard also claimed that term limits have weakened the Legislature:

It’s nice when you’re on the outside looking in and you’d like to get elected, but once you get there, you realize the eight years in each house is maybe not as much time as would be best [Rep. Steve Haugaard, interviewed by Lori Walsh, SDPB, 2018.10.02].

I appreciate Haugaard’s agreement with me that term limits are a bad idea. However, his elitist incumbent attitude (signaled by his use in this interview of republic-not-a-democracy rhetoric that is really code for, the legislator’s Club is smarter than you rabble) smells terribly self-serving for a guy salivating at the prospect of wrapping his hands around the gavel.

Haugaard wouldn’t hit his current House term limit until 2022.


  1. Donald Pay 2018-10-11 10:19

    Ah, a fully corrupted legislator wants to strengthen a body that is fully corrupt. That’s what happens when you don’t have term limits. The longer they stay the more corrupt they get. First term=responsive to the people. Second term=corruption begins. Third term=Tools of the lobbyists. Fourth term=fully corrupt. I’d give legislators two terms maximum. After that they are useless.

    Really, the more time passes, the less time passes. When I started monitoring the Legislature in the early 1980s, the “strengthening the body” argument was all the talk, but what they actually did was knuckle under to Janklow most of the time. What they meant by “strengthening the body” was that they wanted to be able to screw the people in a different position.

    Before term limits you had a bunch of fossils running things. Many never faced opposition in 20-30 years. They didn’t have to be accountable to the people. At least now, a new person gets a chance, even if all the corruption in Pierre means someone new gets a chance at the corrupt Republican trough.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-12 17:45

    I’d say elections are the best term limits, offering voters the chance to limit terms every two years before corruption gets out of hand, but given that juries have hollered “Not Guilty!” both times they’ve been given the chance to discuss GEAR UP, I wonder if voters really care about corruption.

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