Senate boss Lee Schoenbeck may not have been able to protect lazy legislators from the burden of a pretty basic workplace appropriate-use IT policy, but he was able to protect his power in Pierre from wackadoodles in House leadership positions.
Yesterday the House Republican caucus held its leadership elections. Breaking with usual practice, they rejected current Speaker Pro Tempore and culture-war bombthrower Jon Hansen (25/Dell Rapids) and nominated Schoenbeck’s boring District 5 Watertown neighbor Hugh Bartels to be the next Speaker of the House. Austin Goss reports moderates beat right-wing extremists (known as wackadoodles in Schoenbeckian parlance) for two other top spots:
The races for Majority Leader and Assistant Majority Leader also saw more moderate Republicans defeat hardline conservatives. Rep. Will Mortenson (R-Pierre) managed to defeat Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish) and Rebecca Reimer (R-Oacoma) for that position. Taylor Rehfeldt (R-Sioux Falls) bested Randy Gross (R-Dell Rapids) for the Assistant Majority Leader position [Austin Goss, “Moderate Republicans Dominate South Dakota House Leadership Elections,” KOTA-TV, 2022.11.19].
The House GOP made longtime Yankton legislator Mike Stevens the Speaker Pro Tempore. The Republicans picked two big-city moderates, Taylor Rehfeldt (14/Sioux Falls) and Becky Drury (32/Rapid City) as whips, along with three fellers from yahoo country—Kirk Chaffee (29/Underwood), Gary Cammack (29/Union Center), and JD Wangsness (23/Miller). Chaffee is the only whip repeating from last term, when the other four whips were Reimer, Tim Goodwin (30/Sheridan Lake), Kevin Jensen (16/Canton), and Marli Wiese (8/Madison), wackadoodles all.
The top four leaders—Bartels, Stevens, Mortenson, and Rehfeldt—voted against the insurgent effort led by Hansen, and supported by Odenbach, Gross, and Reimer to hoghouse Schoenbeck’s 2022 Senate Bill 117 last February into a repeal of the sales tax on food. Knocking Hansen out of line for Speaker with Schoenbeck’s Session-commute-buddy and surrounding him with moderate leaders sends a pretty clear signal that (1) you don’t mess with Schoenbeck’s bills and (2) the Governor is going to have a hard time keeping her campaign promise to pass the Democratic proposal to repeal the food tax.