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Senate to Clarify Rules: President Pro Tempore Picks Committee Members, with “Advice” from Minority Leader

In addition to the Joint Rules, the House and Senate each of their own rules. The proposed Senate Rules for this Session include one little change in the selection of Senators for standing committees to make clear who’s the boss.

Previously, Senate Rule S4-1 has said the selection of members of the 14 standing committees of the Senate is made by “the president pro tempore and the minority leader.” That wording suggests that the the president pro-tem (currently Republican Senate king Lee Schoenbeck and Democratic) and the minority leader (currently Democratic leader Reynold Nesiba) get an equal say in who goes on committees… though we all know that’s not how it works or how King Lee would ever have it.

The proposed Senate Rules kicked up from committee and read Friday in the Senate would state matters more accurately: standing committee members are selected “by the president pro tempore with advice from the minority leader.” Advice, sure, but not consent.

The House Rules require no such amendment, as they already state, “The speaker of the House of Representatives shall, with advice from the minority leader, appoint the members of the following standing committees….”

Any Democrats wishing to complain about underrepresentation on committees will be referred by the President Pro Tempore to his 2020 advice: You want more say? Win more elections.


  1. Donald Pay 2024-01-13

    I know they used to ask legislators to rank their committee choices were, and the leaders would do all they could to place people in at least one of their top 2 or 3 choices. Of course that couldn’t always work out, but at least the attempt was made to be fair.

    I wonder if that is still done?

  2. Arlo Blundt 2024-01-13

    Democrats are often the lone, and only, voice of opposition on these committees. There’s not much they can do. To have their point of view included in a bill, they have to be Super Salesmen.

  3. jerry 2024-01-14

    South Dakota mirrors Iran, no wonder republicans loves them some Iranians. “There are five reserved seats in the Iranian Parliament for the religious minorities. After the Persian Constitutional Revolution, the Constitution of 1906 provided for reserved parliamentary seats granted to the recognized religious minorities, a provision maintained after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. There are two seats for Armenians and one for each other minority: Assyrians, Jews and Zoroastrians.[1] Given that the Bahá’í Faith is not recognized, they do not have seats in the parliament.[2] Sunni Muslims have no specific reserved seats, but can take part in the ordinary election process at all constitutional levels.[3] Sunni members of parliament are mostly from areas with strong Sunni ethnic minorities like Baluchistan.[3]

    Now mix and match in the South Dakota legislature and you can see just how similar this all is with the Grand Ayatollah Lee as how things are run and will continue to be run here in our desert fiefdom. Less cowbells and more camels.

  4. Lee Schoenbeck 2024-01-14

    The current practice is that the president pro temp gets recommendations from the minority leader for the committee appointments, but the “consent” language in this post is not in the current or proposed rule. I have always taken the minority leader’s advice, but that is what it is. This actual change was initiated by staff in cleaning up language to reflect the process more accurately, while we changing other rules.
    For example, when I put Sen Larson on education this past week, I checked with the minority leader to be sure this caused no issue with him (I sought his advice), which is the same thing I do with the majority leader on majority committee member appointments

  5. Reynold F. Nesiba 2024-01-14

    My view is that this change in the rule language merely reflects our actual practice over the last several years. I appreciated the other changes that give the senate greater autonomy from the executive branch via the Lt. Governor. I will urge my caucus to vote for the rule changes.

    Senator Schoenbeck consults with me (and with Sen. Heinert before me) on committee appointments. He did not have to put Senator Larson on Education, but he did and he made her vice chair. There remains one Republican Senator with no committee appointments who could have been appointed to that seat if the President Pro Temp had wished.

  6. grudznick 2024-01-14

    Young Ms. Frye-Mueller is insaner than most, Mr. Nesiba, and would be doing a disservice to her constituents if she had more voice. The less voice she has, the better, and most here in the District Numbered 30 appreciate not letting her hubby have a committee seat. Her hubby pulls all the strings, young sir.

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