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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Senator Wants Four-Year Terms

By Victoria Wicks
South Dakota voters might be asked to amend the state Constitution to change state Senate terms of office from two years to four years. Sort of.
A Senate Joint Resolution sponsored by Al Novstrup sets senators’ terms to two four-year terms and one two-year term.
Confusing? Well, yes. But Senator Al Novstrup says the state does redistricting every 10 years, and so Senate terms should add up to 10.
“When you do new district lines, you have to then elect new district representatives and senators, so I was forced into a ten-year cycle,” he says. “One of the thoughts was, ‘Why don’t we go with two five-year terms?’ And that doesn’t work, because we can’t do elections in the off years. That’d be an extra cost, and we don’t want to do that.”
Novstrup says on the federal level, Representatives and Senators serve different terms, two years in the House and six years in the Senate.
But in the South Dakota legislature, all seats are up for reelection every two years.
The bill has now cleared the Senate by a vote of 19 to 16. If it gets through the House and is signed by the governor, it goes to the people on the 2014 ballot.