According to Bob Mercer’s headline, municipal electric lobbyists say “Different legislators should have been chosen.”
A couple hundred thousand voters across South Dakota express their surprise that it took municipal electric lobbyists this long to figure that out, and several dozen brave souls welcome those lobbyists’ help in the next election.
Ah, but no, the municipal electric lobby isn’t having an epiphany about the ills of the ongoing Republican majority. They’re huffing and puffing that they didn’t get the legislators they wanted on the interim committee that’s looking at the conflict between municipal electrical providers and rural electric cooperatives:
The complaint Tuesday came from Drew Duncan of Sioux Falls, who represents Heartland Consumers Power District based in Madison, and Larry Nelson of Canton, who lobbies for South Dakota Municipal Electric Association and Missouri River Energy Services.
Duncan said the original agreement reached at a private meeting in Greenfield’s office called for three legislators from a list provided by the municipal interests, three legislators off a list from the cooperatives and three legislators who hadn’t aligned with either side.
Duncan said Senator Lee Schoenbeck, a Republican from Watertown, and a lobbyist for the cooperatives took part in the meeting too.
Nelson, a Democratic former legislator, said he was sitting outside Greenfield’s office during the meeting.
Duncan said he was surprised when the Executive Board appointed five of the bill’s co-sponsors to the study panel. They are Senator Susan Wismer, D-Britton, and House members Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland; Kirk Chaffee, R-Whitewood; Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham; and Shawn Bordeaux, D-Mission.
“I can tell you the perception will be the committee was set up unfairly,” Duncan told board members. He said the way the selection process worked out “was fundamentally unfair” [Bob Mercer, “Different Legislators Should Have Been Chosen, Lobbyists Tell South Dakota Lawmakers,” KELO-TV, 2019.05.21].
The Legislature hoghoused 2019 Senate Bill 66 in March to empanel this summer study and at least delay if not avert a death match between the munis and the rural coops over whether cities can continue to annex territory and take customers away from rural coops. SB 66 specifies that the Legislature’s Executive Board shall select the nine members of the interim committee. Lobbyist Duncan appears to find it unfair that the Executive Board did not cede its power to unelected lobbyists and let them pick the interim committee members at a private meeting.
I’ll roll with poor, wronged Drew Duncan and Heartland Consumers Power District (what? Heartland? You didn’t send my friend Russ Olson to straighten the E-Board out? Come on, bring the big gun!) in that the Legislature makes and is filled with bad choices. I am unconvinced that lobbyists can make better, fairer choices.