Rookie Senator Brent Hoffman (R-9/Sioux Falls) wants to clear out some dead wood from the Legislature. His Senate Joint Resolution 504 would put before voters an amendment to limit legislators to eight years of service in each chamber.
Currently, Article 3 Section 6 of the South Dakota Constitution allows legislators to serve up to four consecutive two-year terms in either the House or the Senate. After four full terms, legislators are free to run for seats in the other chamber. Thus, legislators could serve in the Capitol for life, as long as they switch chambers every now and then.
Hoffman wants to put an end to such extended service. SJR 504 says legislators get eight years in the Senate and eight years in the House, not counting partial terms to which they might be appointed. Once a legislator has been elected to four terms in one chamber, that legislator could never run for a seat in that chamber again.
Term limits remain big-government interference in the rights of voters to choose their representatives. If the people of Aberdeen really want part-time resident and full-time go-karteer Al Novstrup to pursue his self-interest over two decades in the Legislature, then the people of Aberdeen should be free to make that bad decision without government telling them they can’t. In that regard, limited-government Republicans like Hoffman should view Al Novstrup the same way they view communicable diseases: sure, they’re bad for us, but we can’t have government telling us what to do to prevent them.
SJR 504 awaits the attention of Senate State Affairs, where it will face the review of Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska), who has served two years in the House and is now in his eleventh year in the Senate.