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Schoenbeck Agrees to Release Names of Senators Calling for Special Session on Impeachment

Bob Mercer leads the charge for open records and gets results. He apparently has challenged Legislative leaders’ unconscionable decision to keep secret the names of legislators who have called for the November 9 Special Session to consider impeaching killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, and the occasionally sensible President Pro-Tem of the Senate, Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Watertown) has acceded to Mercer’s logic:

The South Dakota Constitution requires either the governor to call a special session or a two-thirds majority of each chamber to convene a special session.

KELOLAND News filed a request with House Speaker Spencer Gosch and Schoenbeck seeking the names. Gosch previously said he wouldn’t release names. The thrust of the KELOLAND News argument is that the public can’t determine whether the two-thirds majorities requirement was met without the names.

…Said Schoenbeck in a statement Sunday, “The senators’ names that petitioned for a special session on the Attorney General impeachment issue will be released tomorrow by the Legislative Research Council. As I have made clear in the past, the petitioning senators are not expressing an opinion about the ultimate outcome of any potential proceeding, they are accommodating the House of Representatives request for a special session to be called by the legislature, rather than the executive branch.”

Added Schoenbeck, an attorney: “A number of senators were surprised that this was not automatically a public record” [Bob Mercer, “Names Are Coming Monday of S.D. Senators Who Back Special Session to Look at AG Impeachment,” KELO-TV, 2021.10.03].

Mercer and Schoenbeck are exactly right. Convening the Legislature outside of its normal schedule is a matter of great import. We voters need to know that such a convening takes place according to the rules. In this case, we need to know that the Special Session really has been called by two thirds of the members of each Chamber and not by the unsupported fiat of a few leaders. Speaker Gosch needs to follow the lead of his more senior lawyering counterpart in the Senate and roll out the roll call.

I will update this post when the list of Special Session-callers comes out.

Update 13:10 CDT: Bob Mercer gets the names of the 27 Senators who called for the Special Session to consider impeaching Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg:

  1. Red Dawn Foster of Pine Ridge
  2. Troy Heinert of Mission
  3. Reynold Nesiba of Sioux Falls
  4. Jim Bolin of Canton
  5. Bryan Breitling of Miller
  6. Gary Cammack of Union Center
  7. Jessica Castleberry of Rapid City
  8. Casey Crabtree of Madison
  9. Blake Curd of Sioux Falls
  10. Michael Diedrich of Rapid City
  11. Helene Duhamel of Rapid City
  12. Mary Duvall of Pierre
  13. Jean Hunhoff of Yankton
  14. Timothy Johns of Lead
  15. David Johnson of Rapid City
  16. Joshua Klumb of Mitchell
  17. Herman Otten of Lennox
  18. Michael Rohl of Aberdeen
  19. Arthur Rusch of Vermillion
  20. Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown
  21. Kyle Schoenfish of Scotland
  22. V.J. Smith of Brookings
  23. Wayne Steinhauer of Hartford
  24. Marsha Symens of Dell Rapids
  25. Erin Tobin of Winner
  26. David Wheeler of Huron
  27. Larry Zikmund of Sioux Falls

My Republican Senator Al Novstrup of Aberdeen was apparently too busy running bumper cars at his pleasure palace in Sioux Falls to add his name to this important petition for a Special Session on impeachment. Also absent from this call were these seven Republicans:

  • Julie Frye-Mueller, Rapid City
  • Brock Greenfield, Clark
  • Jack Kolbeck, Sioux Falls
  • Ryan Maher, Isabel
  • Jim Stalzer, Sioux Falls
  • Maggie Sutton, Sioux Falls
  • John Wiik, Big Stone City


  1. Joe 2021-10-04

    OT but of interest: The state senate’s redistricting proposal. Link below to the presentation, followed by an explanatory “guest column” from Senator Mary Duvall.

    Guest Column: Senate Redistricting Proposal
    The people of South Dakota have vested the Legislature with the responsibility of drawing fair and equitable legislative districts that represent populations of common interest within specific geographic locations. Our goal as a Senate in redistricting is to offer a map that accomplishes our Constitutional requirements in a transparent manner.
    Below is a map we are proposing based upon input from other lawmakers (both past and present) as well as community leaders in areas that will see changes to their districts. While we expect additional changes to be offered based on feedback in the process before the full chambers adopt a map at the Nov. 8, 2021, Special Session, we believe this map is a springboard to further discussions with stakeholders throughout South Dakota.
    As guiding principles in developing this map, we took into account several points that we believe the people of South Dakota want to see from this process.
    Population Size: First, and most important, based on the Constitutional requirement of “one person, one vote, the ideal district size is 25,333. South Dakota grew to 886,667 according to the U.S. Census. One could argue the accuracy of the count, our Constitution requires us to follow this number as we move through the redistricting process. Early on, the Committee agreed upon a 5% deviation threshold (i.e., districts should be between 24,067 and 26,600 in population).
    Communities of Interest: The tribal nations have provided invaluable insights on legislative issues through the years. Since the 2012 map was enacted–the current map governing districts–House seats in 26A, 27 and 28A and Senate seats in 26 and 28 have had a large majority of voters who identify as a minority. Preserving these Native and minority voices is essential to the makeup of South Dakota’s legislature. The first Senate attempts at drawing a map looked for possibilities to increase the number of tribal districts. However, geography and population limitations made those efforts unsuccessful. It should be noted that in 2012, outside of 26, 27 and 28, the district with the next highest diversity was District 15 with 26%. This proposal includes Districts 10, 15 and 33 with 33% or more of its residents who identify as a minority. South Dakota is becoming more diverse, especially in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Huron.
    Continuity: The legislative map implemented in 2012 serves as a good starting point to develop this proposal. Only Lawrence County (District 31) grew at the precise pace needed to hold its boundaries. That said, the bulk area and populations in 22 of the state’s 35 Districts are the same today as they were ten years ago. A bit of refinement to each of these is needed for population changes. We also looked at maps from the 1970s through 2011 to compare historical changes. It should be noted that the 1970s saw the first iteration of a legislative district map based on equal population and equal representation.
    Urban/Rural: As South Dakota’s population grows, the majority of that growth is in our urban areas–especially in population centers along the Interstate 29 corridor. Yet, agriculture remains the state’s number one industry. Many are afraid that rural voices in the legislature have eroded over time, Sioux Falls and Rapid City will dominate the legislature. Rep. Kevin Jensen of rural Lincoln County shared this concern recently at a subcommittee hearing for the Sioux Falls-area’s redistricting efforts. His concern is warranted and addressed by the Senate proposal. Urban areas will continue to grow and legislative districts will continue to be based upon population. In fact this year, rural South Dakota east of the Missouri River must lose one district so that the Sioux Falls area’s population growth is reflected with a new district. Based on population growth estimates, Sioux Falls will likely gain another seat after the 2030 census and Rapid City could gain a seat then as well.Our solution to this problem is reflected in the map. We keep urban districts as compact as possible and make the rural districts as rural as possible. For example, today, District 16–Rep. Jensen’s district–serves all of Union County and the southern portion of Lincoln County. The current district has 40.5% of its population living in an urban area (2,500 residents or more as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau), mostly due to the Sioux City metro area in southern Union County. Neighboring District 17, home of Vermillion and USD, has 50% of its residents living in Vermillion. Our plan would combine Vermillion and North Sioux City into a compact urban area (with a new urban population of 73.9%) and give northeast Clay County and eastern Turner County to District 16 for a new urban population of only 13%. This approach helps ensure rural voices represent agriculture as our State’s number one industry.
    Common Interests: State law requires us to look for areas of common interest. As discussed above, urban and rural are critical. This proposal also takes into account city boundaries and neighboring communities, tribal nations, school districts (many of which cross county lines), population centers, topography, common heritage, and a variety of other factors (media markets, past districts, transportation corridors, etc.). There are a plethora of things that can be used. At the end of the process, we look to find the best option we can given the criteria required, but also the best district for the people who live there and entrust legislators to advocate on their behalf in the Capitol.
    Feedback: Redistricting is an interactive process and feedback from the public is crucial. Our map incorporates ideas brought to us from colleagues and local leaders throughout the state to reflect their area and the state as a whole.
    Drum roll please…. our proposal for the 2022-2032 legislative map along with explanations for each area.
    District 1
    Roberts, Day and Marshall have been grouped together in some form since the 1970s. In 2012, portions of Brown County were added to reach the needed population. This cycle, we’re adding more of Brown to meet the population requirement. With the additions of the Columbia, Claremont and Groton areas, District 1 is a strong and contiguous northeast district with much of the Brown County areas sharing school districts with Day and Marshall Counties. As the home to the Lake Traverse Reservation, District 1 recorded a population with 21.5% of its residents identifying as a minority in 2010. With this proposal, Native Americans and other minorities comprise a 25.7% minority population of the new district.
    District 2
    Due to a lack of population growth, the existing District 2 (Spink, Clark, Hamlin and portions of Brown) are absorbed into surrounding counties. The district currently stretches from the Aberdeen area to Lake Poinsett, which crosses too many communities of interest.
    The proposed District 2 is essentially a Brandon Valley School District legislative seat. As South Dakota’s 13th largest community surrounded by annexed housing developments, this tight urban district allows Brandon to be properly represented in Pierre. When the Brandon district is created, the districts will be renumbered in a geographical sequence.
    District 3
    Practically unchanged, the urban core of Aberdeen remains as District 3 with 94% of its population residing in Aberdeen. The Hub City sees districts 1 and 23 in the area giving Aberdeen and Brown County the potential of nine advocates in the Legislature.
    District 4
    Grant and Deuel have been conjoined as a district for decades, and rural Codington joined the mix in 2012. Brookings and Moody have also been joined with Grant and Deuel in the past. Here, we shed Brookings and split Codington County in half for a more northern district with Urban interests in Watertown, Milbank and Clear Lake, along with rural interests–especially value-added agriculture. The new district is more compact, so voters will live closer to those that represent them in Pierre.
    District 5
    As discussed above, today’s District 2 is divided into surrounding districts by splitting Watertown and Codington in half. This district will now be 50% rural.
    District 6
    The northern Lincoln County area with the Tea and Harrisburg area grew at a faster rate than anywhere else in South Dakota since the 2010 Census. This proposal keeps Tea (population 5,598) and Harrisburg (population 6,732) together with their surrounding townships, which include numerous unannexed housing developments.
    District 7
    Another heavily urban district where nearly 90% of its population is in the city. The Brookings’ district grows slightly to the east to absorb the Aurora area, which is also part of the Brookings school system.
    District 8
    With Highways 14 and 81 connecting this area, Kingsbury, Lake, Miner and rural Brookings creates a compact area with similar topography, agriculture interests, shared school districts, and University interests at SDSU and DSU.
    The Sioux Falls area has grown the most in numbers since the 2010 Census. Brandon, Tea and Harrisburg are becoming more contiguous with the city limits of Sioux Falls each month and are included in the conurbation area for Sioux Falls. Also included are the townships/precincts bordering Sioux Falls that are included in the 3-mile extraterritorial platting jurisdiction. It has been said that Sioux Falls is maturing at a pace of 350-400 acres per year and this area will help absorb the growth of the community. This also better prepares the area for the 2032 redistricting process by establishing a more compact area around the city and the communities immediately bordering Sioux Falls.
    As you can see from this map and as explained before, Sioux Falls, Harrisburg, Tea, Brandon and rural Minnehaha County interests are not only protected but are strengthened.
    On September 28, 2021, the Sioux Falls subcommittee of the Redistricting Committee held a public hearing for feedback on district ideas for Sioux Falls. The majority of the general public who spoke emphasized the need to delineate between rural and urban. The Senate map agrees and creates decisively urban and rural districts. The current District 25 has often been brought up as an example of what citizens want to avoid—largely rural areas dipping into Sioux Falls for the population needed to reach 25,000 people. The Senate also wants to avoid this.
    With the current districts, there are nine districts that include part of Sioux Falls city limits and only four are purely contained within city limits. Lawmakers from three of those districts rarely live in Sioux Falls. With this proposal, lawmakers from six districts must live in the city limits and the lawmakers from District 9 would likely live in Sioux Falls.
    The important bond between the communities within Minnehaha County would be unchanged with our proposal. The ability of mayors in Garretson or Colton to work with the mayor of Sioux Falls or the ability for school superintendents across Minnehaha’s seven school districts remains unchanged. This proposal strengthens their legislator’s voice by ensuring it is a lawmaker living in a rural setting advocating for rural needs.
    Again, we are looking for compact, contiguous urban areas and we have accomplished this in Sioux Falls.
    District 9
    District 9 currently contains Hartford, Humboldt, Crooks and northwest Sioux Falls. Here, we right-size the district to northwest Sioux Falls and the immediate townships surrounding Sioux Falls where the city is expected to see rapid growth in the years ahead. This new area would also include Crooks and Renner.
    District 10
    District sees more change than the other districts in Sioux Falls. Here, we remove Renner and Brandon and add more central and historic neighborhoods near the downtown area along with northeast neighborhoods currently in the district. Precincts gained come from the current districts of 13 and 14.
    District 11
    The population of District 11 far outgrew its current boundaries clocking in 30,219 people in the 2020 census—a clear sign of rapid growth in western Sioux Falls necessitating the proposed District 9 described above. This proposal contracts the district to create a nice southwest Sioux Falls pocket west of Interstate 29. Precincts removed end up in District 9. An additional good note is this district stays entirely in Minnehaha County.
    District 12
    This district remains very similar to its current map, however now the northeast corner is squared up. It also gains two precincts in Lincoln County that were previously in District 6.
    District 13
    The central and south-central district of Sioux Falls remains very similar to the current map, thanks to growth at the right pace. The historic All Saints, Hayes and McKennan Park areas move to join District 10 and a few precincts from District 12 come in for a clean Western Avenue to Cliff Avenue area.
    District 14
    Similar to the current map, District 14 stays entirely in Minnehaha County and doesn’t drop into Lincoln County. The current district is 2,247 people too big from the ideal size. In an effort to get the numbers right and square it up from it’s old L shape, the far east portions go to the new Brandon district. Some of the northwest precincts in the core of the city also go into District 10.
    District 15
    Downtown Sioux Falls’ population growth was expected to be higher than the census recorded, requiring the central district to grow slightly. Here, we add the airport area and Benson Road industrial areas.
    District 16
    Discussed in detail in the setup to the map, this proposal sheds the Sioux City metro area portion of southern Union County and adds rural communities and farming families from Turner and northern Clay County. This creates a more agrarian and rural district in southeastern South Dakota and helps elevate rural voices in an area where cities like Vermillion and the Sioux City Area continue to grow.
    District 17
    During the 1970s and 1980s, Clay and southern portions of Union formed District 13. This proposal looks to return to a similar district to establish a compact and urban district. With a 74% urban population from Vermillion, North Sioux City, and Dakota Dunes, this allows the rural portions of Clay, Turner and Union to join southern Lincoln County as a heavily rural district. Elk Point is only 15 miles from Vermillion and even North Sioux City (Dakota Dunes) is only 31 miles away. The Vermillion area has a lot of social and commercial connections with that area of Union County. More residents in this area commute to the Sioux City area for work and commerce than they would to Parker or Sioux Falls.
    District 18
    For decades, Yankton County has stood alone as its own district. In the 2020 Census, the county came in short 757 residents to remain solely within the county lines. As proposed by Rep. Cwach at the committee’s August meeting, this proposed map adds the precinct with Irene from Northwest Clay County into District 18.
    District 19
    Another district largely unchanged, District 19 includes McCook, Hutchinson and most of Bon Homme and Hansen counties, and adds in western Turner County–an area that is part of the Freeman School District in Hutchinson County.
    District 20
    A historically Mitchell-centric district (population 15,660), Jerauld County stays in the mix with Davidson, while Sanborn County is added to make up for the removal of Aurora County.
    District 21
    Another largely unchanged district, District 21 keeps Charles Mix and Gregory counties as well as the Avon area of Bon Homme County. Portions of Tripp must be added to District 26 to address Voting Rights Act issues, while Aurora and Douglas counties are added to meet the population requirements.
    District 22
    The Huron-area grew by 1,671 residents since 2010 and will remain the population hub of District 22 with 14,091 residents. Beadle County recorded 19,149 residents, necessitating at least 4,918 people from a surrounding county. With the dissolution of District 2 circa 2012, Spink County’s 6,361 residents round out the district’s population nicely. That county’s largest city–Redfield–sits equally distanced between Huron and Aberdeen. Since the northeast portion of the state is locked in with historic lines, Beadle and Spink are a natural fit. It should also be noted that Beadle and portions of Spink made up District 21 from 1992 to 2002.
    District 23
    Since 1982, the proposed lines for District 23 have existed in some form or another. Nearly identical to the current district, Campbell, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, McPherson, Potter and Walworth remain in place. The southwest corner of Spink County goes with the rest of the county to District 22. In its place, the southwest corner of Brown County, including a small portion of western Aberdeen, rounds out the population requirement. Despite the addition of Aberdeen residents, 75% of the district’s population lives in a rural setting.
    District 24
    Sticking with tradition, the current Pierre district grows to include Haakon County–the same district lines from 1972 to 1982. The Pierre and Fort Pierre areas have been divided by past committees (e.g., 1961 and 1981), we believe the Oahe Dam core area should remain as a unit.
    District 25
    Perhaps one of the more controversial districts contained in the proposal, District 25 also sees major change from the current map. In fact, many critics of the redistricting process often point to District 25 as a “picture perfect” example of gerrymandering. Here, with this proposal, the small towns and agriculture area of Minnehaha County joins Moody County—an area included with Dell Rapids prior to 1992. Again, this change guarantees that these rural areas have rural representation to represent rural interests. Moody County and rural Minnehaha County also share a common interest in the quality of flow of the Big Sioux River that flows through communities like Flandreau and Dell Rapids. These area interests and perspectives on water quality could vary vastly from those of a resident in an apartment along the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls. The important bond between the communities within Minnehaha County would be unchanged with the District 25 proposal. The ability of mayors in Garretson or Colton to work with the mayor of Sioux Falls or the ability for school superintendents across Minnehaha’s seven school districts remains unchanged. In fact, this proposal strengthens their legislator’s voice by ensuring it is a lawmaker living in a rural setting advocating for rural needs.
    In discussions with Senator Heinert its clear that the local population sees District 27 as reflecting the Oglala Band of the Lakota, and District 26 reflecting the Brule Band of the Lakota (except for the obvious historical anomaly with Crow Creek). This map uses the census numbers, as required by our Constitution. However, we are aware of the concerns of the tribal communities that their numbers are undercounted – which means the Native American population is likely higher than the map shows.
    As our map proposes, we are largely using the current district boundaries as requested by input from Tribal leaders but modifying where needed to meet Constitutionally required population numbers.
    District 26
    The goal here is to create a Brule Lakota district. At a recent committee meeting, Senator Heinert identified the tribal communities within western Tripp County. He also explained that there is even a seat on the tribal council for the area in western Tripp County. The current district is short 999 people. Our proposal addresses this by adding precincts from the Winner area.
    District 27
    According to Census data, the current boundaries for this district are nearly 3,000 residents below the number needed for a legislative district. Senator Heinert explained that the eastern boundary of the district is a hard line of demarcation between the Brule and the Oglala. So, all of Bennett County needs to stay in the District, as well as the counties of Oglala Lakota and Jackson. Jackson includes the former tribal dominated county of Washabaugh.
    Haakon was in this district but offers de minimis Native American population.
    Senator Heinert explained that tribal members working at the casino find available housing in eastern Fall River County and that those precincts should be part of District 27. There are three precincts that make up eastern Fall River County and add 663 people.
    At this point you still need at least 3,544 people. Eastern Pennington County has been a part of this district historically, and there are no real other options to look to for the residents needed to complete a district. The entire identified Oglala area has been included. If you take those voters from eastern Pennington County, which adjoins the reservation, and has some Native American population, those seven precincts have 4,051 people.
    The supply of available Oglala is exhausted by this map, and you end up with a Native American voting age population percentage of nearly 66%.
    You could create single member house districts to insure Native American representation. The population here is looking a lot more like District 28, which can provide some guidance about how to address it.
    District 28
    Corson, Dewey, Butte, Perkins, Ziebach and Harding represent the largest geographic district in our map. We propose uniting Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations and all of Butte County in one district. With a population of 25,943 it is within two percent of the target “perfect” population.
    District 29
    In 2011, Meade County pulled from Butte County for the population numbers to work. Today, Meade has enough population after the Black Hawk and Summerset areas go to District 33 to stand alone.
    District 30
    Fall River and Custer are at 15,291 and need 10,000 Pennington County citizens from the western and southern parts. We’re adding districts RK – Rockerville and VF – unincorporated Rapid Valley
    To address the Voting Rights Act concern addressed from Senator Heinert, we propose moving the far eastern part of Fall River County, including Oelrichs, as well as far eastern Pennington County (Wall and New Underwood), into District 27.
    We’re adding districts RK – Rockerville and VF – unincorporated Rapid Valley
    District 31
    The only unchanged district from the 2011 redistricting efforts, Lawrence County came in within the 5% deviation at 25,768 residents.
    Rapid City has experienced more population growth than many of our rural areas. Rapid City currently includes four districts (numbers 32-35). There were a few objectives in mind, based on public feedback, including keeping Ellsworth and Box Elder together and preserving the North Rapid City neighborhood.
    District 32
    We examined District 32, the heart of Rapid City. We propose keeping its north boundary the same – Omaha Street. The district would follow its traditional boundaries southward until the required population mark is reached. The district would have to “lose” the Rockerville area. However, District 30 to the south of Rapid City would benefit from Rockerville’s population. Thus, we believe this change is a win-win for the residents and for the State of South Dakota.
    District 33
    To the west and north in District 33, we attempted to keep all of North Rapid in one district, in response to some feedback from our listening sessions. But now we needed to “lose” some population to achieve the right size. Our idea is to eliminate the rural part of the Canyon Lake precinct to get it done. District 34, then, would pick up the area, which now would actually make the Jackson Boulevard neighborhood intact.
    District 34
    This district is roughly the same except with addition of the entire Canyon Lake precinct because it already had part of it in District 34 along Highway 44.
    District 35
    To keep changes at a minimum and neighborhoods intact as much as possible, we propose drawing District 35 to preserve Ellsworth, Box Elder and Rapid Valley, and expanding southward to meet the population requirement.
    The Senate Redistricting Committee adopted this proposal by a vote of 6-1, and will continue to encourage public feedback throughout the process as we consider additional changes.

  2. DR 2021-10-04

    Im not even sure why Al bothers anymore. Its time to find someone else…republican or democrat.

  3. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-10-04

    I thank both CAH and Joe for their authoring and contributions to this topic/thread.

    My (cynical) observations over the last twenty years have reinforced my belief that representatives merely represent themselves and their own self-interests. What, their constituents will suddenly arise one morning and storm the Bastille, chanting “a la lanterne?” Not gonna happen.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-10-04

    DR, I wonder the same thing. With Al as Senator, Aberdeen is guaranteed no new ideas, just votes directed by the caucus leaders and the occasional bull to lower his cost of doing bumper-car business. If the GOP leadership says, “Cut Jason loose,” Al will vote to impeach.

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