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House GOP Selects Majority Leadership


State House Republicans are choosing legislative leadership.

Communication between the House and Senate has dissolved in recent years. The new House majority leader says the lines of communication  are open.

Kent Peterson is the majority leader for House Republicans, which hold a super majority in that chamber.

The Republican from Salem was assistant majority leader in 2017 and 2018, but hasn’t held a leadership position since.

Peterson isn’t concerned about the  breakdown in communication between House and Senate Republicans that’s characterized the past few sessions. He says he has a great relationship with Senator Gary Cammack, who is now Majority leader in the Senate.

“I’ve worked with him on several issues over my six years in the House,” Peterson says. “We’re starting from a place of mutual respect, and I think that’s very important in the roles that we deal with. I’m looking forward to working with him and with all the Senate. We have to remember, we’re on the same team here. We’re all looking to make South Dakota better. I don’t think going against each other is something we need to look to do. We need to try to find things that we can agree on and work through the things we don’t agree on.”

Peterson says he expects a busy session with a lot of issues on the table this year. In addition to  COVID response, he says legislators will promulgate rules on recent voter approved ballot questions—both with marijuana and sports betting in Deadwood.

But lawmakers will have to do that during a global pandemic. Representative Spencer Gosch is nominated for Speaker of the House. The Republican from Glenham says when the legislature gaveled out in March of 2020 the world was a completely different place.

“When we go in in 2021 we’re going to have to operate in a brand new world with brand new problems. It’s almost like starting over, not quite, but almost like starting over,” Gosch says. “Things have changed so much in everybody’s lives. So, we’re going to have a lot to do. If you want to add insult to injury, we’re going to have to navigate through the mitigation process of COVID ourselves.”

Gosch says he’s been working with Senate President Pro Tempore nominee Lee Schoenbeck on virus mitigation plans for the session in January.

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.