SD lawmakers ponder pay raise

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – A bill that would give South Dakota legislators a pay raise and tie their salaries to the state's median household income is headed to the Senate floor.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 5-3 Monday to approve House Bill 1311. Republican Sen. Jeffrey Partridge says the bill aims to fairly compensate future lawmakers in order to encourage a wider range of qualified candidates to run for office.

Republican Sen. Stace Nelson, who opposed the bill, says there are many qualified South Dakotans who are willing to serve.

The bill would set legislators' salaries at one-fifth of the South Dakota median household income. It would increase pay to more than $10,000, up from lawmakers' currently salary of $6,000 per session plus a per diem allowance.

The measure already passed the House by a 50-16 vote.

The same committee, last week, tabled a different measure (House Joint Resolution 1001) that would have asked voters to give legislators a pay raise.