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South Dakota State Senate

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South Dakota State Senate

Seal of South Dakota.jpg
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   4 terms (8 years)
2015 session start:   January 10, 2012
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Matthew Michels, (R)
Majority Leader:   Russell Olson, (R)
Minority leader:   Jason Frerichs, (D)
Members:  35
   Democratic Party (8)
Republican Party (27)
Length of term:   2 years
Authority:   Art III, Sec 1, South Dakota Constitution
Salary:   $12,000/2 years + per diem
Last Election:  November 2, 2010 (35 seats)
Next election:  November 6, 2012 (35 seats)
Redistricting:  South Dakota Legislature has control
The South Dakota Senate is the upper house of the South Dakota State Legislature.

The senate consists of 35 state senators who serve two-year terms with term limits.[1]

Each state senator represents an average of 23,262 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[2] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 21,567 residents.[3]


Article III of the South Dakota Constitution establishes when the South Dakota State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 7 of Article III states that the Legislature is to meet in regular session each year on the second Tuesday of January.

The South Dakota Constitution also contains provisions concerning special sessions of the Legislature. Section 3 of Article IV allows the Governor of South Dakota to convene a special session of the Legislature. Additionally, Section 31 of Article III allows for a special session to be convened by the presiding officers of both legislative houses upon the written request of two-thirds of the members of each house.


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate will be in session from January 10 through mid-March.

Major issues

Legislators will take up Governor Dennis Daugaard's proposals of bonuses for state employees, additional aid to schools and Medicare agencies, and work force development initiatives. Additionally, they will consider a texting-while-driving ban, reforming the school funding formula, and increased penalties for speeding.[4]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 11 through March 28. [5]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 12 to March 29.[6]



See also: South Dakota State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of South Dakota State Senate will be held in South Dakota on November 6, 2012. A total of 35 seats will be up for election.

The signature filing deadline was March 27, 2012.

South Dakota state senators are subject to term limits and may not serve more than four two-year terms. In 2012, 3 state senators will be termed-out.


See also: South Dakota State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of South Dakota's State Senate were held in South Dakota on November 2, 2010.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was March 30, 2010. The primary election day was June 8, 2010.

In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $1,090,800 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were: [7]

Donor Amount
South Dakota Senate Republicans Campaign Cmte $36,500
South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association $19,750
Warner PAC $16,000
South Dakota Education Association $15,750
South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations $15,750
South Dakota Republican Party $15,422
South Dakota Association of Realtors $14,700
South Dakota Retailers Association $13,850
Codington County Republican Central Cmte $11,500
South Dakota Corn Growers Association $11,250


To be eligible to serve in the South Dakota Senate, a candidate must be:[8]

  • A U.S. citizen at the time of filing
  • 21 years old at the filing deadline time
  • A two-year resident of South Dakota at the filing deadline time
  • May not have been convicted of bribery, perjury or other infamous crime; may not have illegally taken "public moneys"
  • A qualified voter. A qualified voter is someone who is:
* A U.S. citizen
* Reside in South Dakota
* At least 18 years old old on or before the next election
* Not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction which included imprisonment, served or suspended, in an adult penitentiary system
* Not be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law
* Not have served 4 consecutive terms


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures:

Under the state constitution, the Governor is responsible for appointing a replacement in the event a vacancy happens in the State Senate. There are no deadlines set in the state constitution to when the Governor has to fill the vacancy[9].

Term limits

See also: State legislatures with term limits

The South Dakota legislature is one of 15 state legislatures with term limits. Voters enacted the South Dakota Term Limits Act in 1992. That initiative said that South Dakota senators are subject to term limits of no more than four consecutive two-year terms, or eight consecutive years. State senators can run again after they have been out-of-office for a term.

The South Dakota State Legislature has tried on more than one occasion, each time unsuccessfully, to persuade the state's voters to repeal term limits. The most recent such failed attempt was when Amendment J lost in 2008 by 75-25%.

The first year that the term limits enacted in 1992 impacted the ability of incumbents to run for office was in 2000.[10]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, members of the South Dakota Senate are paid $12,000/two-year term. Legislators receive $110/day per diem. Rates are set by the legislature.[11]

The $12,000/two-year term that South Dakota senators are paid as of 2010 is the same as they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem is also the same.[12]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

South Dakota legislators assume office the first day of session after election (Jan. 11).

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of February 2015
     Democratic Party 8
     Republican Party 27
Total 35


The Lieutenant Governor acts as President of the Senate. The President only votes in the case of a tie. The senate elects one member to serve as President pro tempore; this officer presides in the absence of the president, appoints committees, and assigns legislation to committee.

Current leadership

Position Representative Party
President of the Senate Matthew Michels Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Bob Gray Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader Jason Frerichs Electiondot.png Democratic

2010 Leadership

Position Representative Party
President of the Senate Matthew Michels Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Bob Gray Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Leader David Knudson Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem Electiondot.png Democratic

List of current senators

District Representative Party Residence
1 Jason Frerichs Electiondot.png Democratic -
2 Jim Hundstad Electiondot.png Democratic Bath
3 Al Novstrup Ends.png Republican Aberdeen
4 Tim Begalka Ends.png Republican -
5 Ried Holien Ends.png Republican -
6 Arthur Fryslie Ends.png Republican Willow Lake
7 Larry Tidemann Ends.png Republican -
8 Russell Olson Ends.png Republican Madison
9 Deb Peters Ends.png Republican -
10 Shantel Krebs Ends.png Republican -
11 Todd Schlekeway Ends.png Republican -
12 Mark Johnston Ends.png Republican -
13 Phyllis Heineman Ends.png Republican -
14 Joni Cutler Ends.png Republican -
15 Angie Buhl Electiondot.png Democratic -
16 Dan Lederman Ends.png Republican -
17 Eldon Nygaard Ends.png Republican -
18 Jean Hunhoff Ends.png Republican Yankton
19 J.E. Putnam Ends.png Republican -
20 Mike Vehle Ends.png Republican Mitchell
21 Kent Juhnke Ends.png Republican Vivian
22 Tom Hansen Ends.png Republican Huron
23 Corey Brown Ends.png Republican Gettysburg
24 Bob Gray Ends.png Republican Fort Pierre
25 Tim Rave Ends.png Republican -
26 Billie Sutton Electiondot.png Democratic -
27 James Bradford Electiondot.png Democratic Pine Ridge
28 Ryan Maher Ends.png Republican Isabel
29 Larry Rhoden Ends.png Republican Union Center
30 Bruce Rampelberg Ends.png Republican Rapid City
31 Thomas Nelson Ends.png Republican Lead
32 Stanford Adelstein Ends.png Republican Rapid City
33 Elizabeth Kraus Ends.png Republican -
34 Craig Tieszen Ends.png Republican Rapid City
35 Jeffrey Haverly Ends.png Republican Rapid City

Senate Committees

The South Dakota State Senate has 13 standing committees.

External links