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House Republicans elect new leadership

2023 House leadership.jpg
Hugh Bartels
The new incoming House leadership--(left to right) Assistant Majority Leader Taylor Rehfeldt, Majority Leader Will Mortenson, Speaker of the House Hugh Bartels and Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Stevens.

South Dakota House Republicans are signaling a different direction following leadership elections over the weekend.

House Republicans are nominating a Watertown banker to lead the chamber.

Hugh Bartels has spent the last several sessions crafting the state budget in appropriations. As speaker, Bartels will determine who sits on what committee. He also determines what bill gets heard in what committee. Those maneuvers can often signal fate for highly contentious bills.

Bartels challenged Jon Hansen for the job. Hansen spent the last two years as speaker pro tempore, which is typically next in line for speakership.

Bartels said he’s thankful he’s been chosen to lead the chamber.

“I was just encouraged by several house members, and I knew I could do a really good job at bringing a team together in the House. That’s what we really need to be is a team, so we’re effective," Bartels said. "I was encouraged to do it and I did it and I worked hard at it. I’m so proud of the opportunity to lead the House as speaker.”

The caucus holds a supermajority in the chamber and will officially elect Hugh Bartels in January.

Republicans are tapping second term Representative Will Mortenson as majority leader. The Pierre lawyer brought first ever impeachment articles against a constitutional officer—former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. Mortenson convinced the chamber to impeach even after a house probe recommended against it.

Mortenson said he believes in servant leadership.

“The good news is we’re going to be pulling in the same direction," Mortenson said. "I think that some of the stumbles of the past are going to be left in the past and we’re looking forward to pulling forward together.”

Republicans also chose Yankton Republican Mike Stevens as Speaker Pro Tempore and Sioux Falls Republican Taylor Rehfeldt as assistant Majority Leader.

Lawmakers convene on Jan. 10 for the 2023 session.

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.