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Bad LRC Working Conditions Require Regular Secret Meetings and Monitoring from Legislators

How bad are working conditions at the Legislative Research Council? So bad that the Legislature’s Executive Board says they have to add regular secret meetings with LRC boss Reed Holwegner to their agenda to discuss personnel issues:

The announcement by Senator Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, came after board members met privately for more than an hour, first with LRC director Reed Holwegner and then without him.

“The director’s impressed upon the board the challenges of managing a legislative staff in a highly charged environment and the commitment of the Executive Board is we will (at) every one of our meetings have an executive session to talk about how we’re addressing issues,” Schoenbeck said.

He continued, “And that the executive committee in particular and the executive director will meet specifically to address the personnel and HR-type issues and keep the process moving forward. I’m glad I have my job and not yours.”

Schoenbeck’s declaration followed Holwegner’s latest announcement at the March meeting that two top lawyers were leaving the LRC staff for jobs with the state’s courts system [Eric Mayer, “Executive Sessions to Be Part of Executive Board Meetings,” KELO-TV, 2022.04.25].

I don’t know about that, Lee—I would love to be a Senator or a lawyer, but I would also love to have Reed Holwegner’s job. Making the Legislature’s website more efficient, publishing bills and laws and Legislative proceedings for public use, helping legislators draft bills, providing guidance to citizens writing ballot initiatives—wow! What a fun way to spend the workday! How could anyone not be happy working for the LRC?

We shouldn’t like anything that gives legislators another excuse to hold more closed-door meetings. Keeping things secret is why corruption in Pierre like Governor Kristi Noem’s rigging of the social studies standards review process to import the Trump-Hillsdale College 1776 curriculum goes unnoticed and unaddressed.

The Legislative Research Council is a vitally important public service agency. If someone is undermining the performance of that agency, the public should know about it. Legislators should make clear what is causing the LRC to underperform, how the LRC is underperform, and what the Legislature is doing to rectify that performance. If it’s just a pay issue, raise the pay and let everyone know you’re raising pay so you get some applicants. If it’s a deeper personnel issue, lay it out, make clear the behavior causing the personnel issue is unacceptable in any state agency, and give the misbehaver two weeks to stop misbehaving or get out.

4 Comments

  1. Donald Pay 2022-04-27

    Yes, I agree with you regarding the LRC. It has a very important job. It used to be very, very good. It was professional, non-partisan and willing to work with everyone. The problem has come, I think, with the upswing of the out-of-state bill mills and legislators who have cuckoo ideologies. Legislators who bring bill mill bills or ideas from some important special interest constituency seem to think they were handed the tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments. Nary a word can be changed. And then, when the bill runs into trouble because it was loosely worded, they blame the LRC.

    It used to be that LRC staff were lifers, or at least hung around for a decade or two. They developed expertise in their chosen area of the law. What is staff turnover at the LRC these days?

  2. grudznick 2022-04-27

    Usually when there are such problems, Mr. Pay, one need look no further than at the furry head of the limping beast. I’m sure our friend Mr. Wyland would agree.

    grudznick suspects that having to work with so many who are insaner than most could play a big part, too.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-27

    well…Both Donald and Grudz have valid points. Fact is, the dominant Republican Party is so crazy and dysfunctional that even a highly professional organization like the LRC has been infected and reduced to babbling Party line nonsense.

  4. jakc 2022-04-27

    “raise the pay” tee hee. let me know how that works out. these aren’t party staffers.

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