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State Senate GOP Picks New Leadership


State Senate Republicans are choosing chamber leadership.
One leader says he’s focused on making sure the will of the caucus is communicated clearly to the House, the Executive Branch and the public.
Lee Schoenbeck is the Republican nominee for Senate President Pro Tempore. If confirmed in January, the Watertown Republican will set committee assignments and choose where bills get heard.

For four years that position was held by Senator Brock Greenfield of Clark.
Schoenbeck says the leadership the Republican caucus picked are all forward-thinking people. 
“It’s really a reflection of what a great new senate we’ve got,” Schoenbeck says. “We’re just loaded with talent. I just finished doing the committee assignments. I did it in like 48 hours because there’s so many good people, it was easy to do.”
The Republican majority is led by two west river Senators. Gary Cammack, of Union Center, is the majority leader. Mike Deidrich of Rapid City is assistant majority leader.
Senator Cammack says he wants to prioritize communication between each legislative chamber—both with Republican supermajorities.
“There hasn’t been the best communication between the Senate and House in the last few years,” Cammack says. “The blame doesn’t fall on anyone in particular. I know there were some efforts made to open up that communication from the Senate side. There were just some differences in philosophy that didn’t get bridged.
Cammack says the legislature will have two major issues to tackle in the coming session—developing legislation around the recent voter approved marijuana initiatives and one-time spending with a budget surplus.
Just three Democrats are in the state Senate. 
House Republicans will hold their leadership elections on Saturday.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.