South Dakota State Legislative leaders discuss new roles

The Republicans were able to select their leadership in closed door, caucus meetings given their outsized super majorities in both chambers of the State Legislature.
 Super Blue Blood Moon over the South Dakota State Capitol; Photo courtesy of Keith Hemmelman
Super Blue Blood Moon over the South Dakota State Capitol; Photo courtesy of Keith Hemmelman (KSFY)
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:51 PM MST
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PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota State Legislators have elected leadership in both the State House and Senate.

Amongst those positions are President Pro Tempore and Speaker of the House. Those positions were filled by State Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) and State Representative Spencer Gosch (R-Mobridge) respectively.

Schoenbeck has previously served in the role of President Pro Tempore during the 2005-2006 term of the state legislature.

Schoenbeck and Gosch both say that the session will be amongst the busiest they have had.

“COVID, COVID funds, and marijuana. Those three topics are going to be huge in terms of our attention and time.” said Senator Schoenbeck.

“We’ve got a constitutional amendment that is coming through that we have to take a look at, we have a lot of parameters to build within that. We have a pretty large hill to climb. An initiated measure that came through and then another constitutional amendment. So two constitutional amendments that going to need navigated around.” said Rep. Gosch. The legislature plans to have a more solid plan to address meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming weeks.

Gosch served as Speaker Pro Tempore prior to becoming Speaker. It is common for Speaker Pro Temps to eventually become the Speaker. State Representative Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids) will now fill that role.

He says that political experience, as well as his private sector experience, will help him lead the State House.

“I graduated from the University of South Dakota with two degrees... right out of college, I traveled around to different stores for Walmart, was a member of the management teams for various Walmarts.” Gosch would eventually jump back into farming and ranching with his father. He is also a play by play radio announcer for high school football.

Despite the Republicans having a super majority in both the State House and the Senate, Gosch hopes to continue to facilitate an open relationship with his Democratic colleagues.

“The Speaker is tasked with being a bipartisan position, so working with both parties involved to make sure that the integrity of the process is in tact at all times.” said Representative Gosch.

As part of his duties as President Pro Temp, Senator Schoenbeck was responsible for appointing chairs and vice-chairs to committees in the Senate.

“I try to look at who has knowledge in a field, and the ability and aptitude to lead.” Senator Schoenbeck said about his picks.

You can read about State Democrats leadership assignments here.