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Lawmakers will consider Ravnsborg impeachment and redistricting next month


State lawmakers will meet next month with two big jobs to do: considering whether to remove Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office, and redrawing legislative district boundaries.

Regarding Ravnsborg, the first step is forming a commission. The commission would make a recommendation about drafting articles of impeachment.

If lawmakers create the commission when they convene Nov. 8-9 at the Capitol in Pierre, it would be the first such commission in state history.

Last year, Ravnsborg was the driver in a fatal car accident that killed Hyde County resident Joe Boever. Ravnsborg pleaded no-contest to two misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Legislators will consider whether Ravnsborg's conduct is an impeachable offense.

Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch said that debate shouldn't take long.

"It is what it is," Gosch says. "We're going to go, we're going to appoint a committee—or we're going to ask to appoint a committee. If the body agrees, the committee will move forward and we will gavel out. It should be a relatively short day."

The House and Senate will already be in Pierre to vote on new legislative district lines. That's required every decade following the census.

Each chamber has its own redistricting commission. Both redistricting committees met this week. Gosch said the House supported having a joint committee, rather than two separate ones.

"They have a different idea—an idea that they've had in the works since early August," Gosch said. "We're still trying to feel out the communities to see what they want in trying to do things in a more transparent manner. Yesterday, like I said, things came to a head. We ended up splitting and parting ways."

The rift between chambers could mean that the state's top court could draw district lines, instead of lawmakers.

The state Senate already has maps drawn.

State Sen. Lee Schoenbeck expects the chamber will vote on its maps in a routine manner.

"Some version will get sent to the floor, there will be robust debate on it on the floor," Schoenbeck said. "Presumably the House will do some similar version of that. That's why God made conference committees. After that, it's the Supreme Court's. If we don't agree, the constitution gives it to them."

Both House and Senate redistricting committees will meet again in mid-October to hash out redistricting details.

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.
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