House State Affairs Committee passes HB1198

PIERRE, S.D.(SDBA) – Could state lawmakers finally get their way in changing the way party’s select their candidates for statewide offices?

For freshman lawmaker Tyler Tordsen of Sioux Falls – he is hoping the answer to that question is yes.

Monday morning, Tordsen successfully navigated his bill(HB1198) through the House State Affairs committee which would put the races for attorney general and secretary of state on the primary ballot, and allow the governor to select their lieutenant governor. That would make South Dakota one less of the three states still using a convention process to determine nominees for those offices.

It’s a scaled-back version of a proposal Tordsen brought last month that would have asked voters during the November general election to decide whether or not to remove all races decided in a partisan convention to the ballot. The same committee defeated that bill.

“I have spent the last couple weeks listening, learning, and adapting,” Tordsen said Monday morning. “I believe that this bill strikes the balance that can lend respect to all interested parties.”

A big reason Tordsen was able to steer the bill to passage this time around was because he flipped the committee’s two Democrats, both of which voted against his previous effort.

Tordsen said he had consulted with South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Dan Ahlers on this piece of legislation. A similar effort to collaborate with state Republican Party Chair John Wiik was unsuccessful, according to those two.

“This is something that I can support this time because it is not a constitutional amendment,” Healy explained. “(And) I think it is time to bring this conversation to the floor, this is an important one to have.”

Still, the bill faces a long way to passage – particularly when it heads to the House floor for consideration. Opposing lawmakers are likely to bring several amendments to the bill, intended to water it down to include less offices.

A preview of that came Monday morning, when Rep. Jon Hansen brought an amendment that would have made it so that the bill would only apply to the office of lieutenant governor.

“Letting governors pick their running mates is the consensus on this issue,” Hansen said. “Our party does not want this, they have expressed this very clearly attempt after attempt… This bill is like tossing a grenade into the middle of our party and watching it blow.”

The bill is likely to be heard on the House floor Tuesday afternoon.