Should South Dakota's state senators serve longer terms? A majority of our senators think so. Three weeks ago, the State Senate passed SJR 3, a measure that would have us vote on amending the state constitution to double the terms of state senators from two years to four.
The proposal is interesting. Extending the terms of senators would improve the institutional memory of the Legislature and insulate the upper chamber from campaign pressures. It would also make our Senate that much more like the U.S. Senate, where members can garner more connections and power in their longer terms.
So guess what happened when the House got hold of this bill? Those clever devils amended it to give House members four-year terms as well. Improve institutional memory, fine, but let the Senators get all snooty? "Ha!" chortled Speaker Tim Rave and other defenders of the House.
Props to House State Affairs on what sounds like a big juicy raspberry to the kids across the hall. Don't expect much else from SJR 3, though. Even if the full House musters 36 ayes, the Governor will veto it ("More power for the Legislature? Double ha!"). Even if the governor did let SJR 3 slide, it wouldn't sell with the public. Heck, we won't even pay them standard mileage rates for two more trips; you think we'd let them have longer terms?
House, you've had your fun. Now let's put SJR 3 to bed. You don't want to be stuck with the job for four years at a stretch any more than we want you to. Shorter terms mean more elections, which mean more immediate accountability for the folks we elect and more chances for that community conversation about what we want from Pierre.
Guest column: Bob Mercer’s important role in Pierre - This guest column was written by Noel Hamiel, a retired editor and publisher of numerous South Dakota newspapers, including Yankton and Mitchell newspapers...
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