One and done, versus the never-ending special session. Haugaard campaign rumors continue.

It’s election season, but it seems that House Speaker Steve Haugaard’s focus seems less about his re-election campaign in District 10 and more about the concept of a days-long special session in the middle of October.

Earlier this week, Governor Kristi Noem announced plans for a brief special legislative session on October 5 to approve the use of federal COVID funds. Basically, one and done.

Picture of Representative Steven G. HaugaardBut talking to a few legislators, the chatter is that Speaker Haugaard seems to have some has different ideas. The word is that he’s pitching a special COVID-related session that begins on October 5, but returns on October 12, with committee hearings, and even more discussion on how to spend COVID funds, which could go on for days.  The foundation for this overly-broad special COVID session seem to have been laid down earlier and were discussed in August.. and they’ve never really gone away.

Who on earth is asking for the legislature to come back into special session for another week or two in the middle of the fall campaign season, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars?  That would be no one.

The special session coming now is because there may be deadlines that won’t be extended to access COVID related federal dollars. As noted in the calling of a special session, Governor Kristi Noem pointed out it was for “the purpose of considering legislation related to the use of federal stimulus relief funds, including the $1.25 billion allocated to South Dakota in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF),” as there are deadlines on the funds which come before the next session.

Which is fine. Let’s get it accomplished. Give the authority to administer the funds. Involve the Joint Appropriations committee in the continued interim if needed. In & out, and let people go back to their lives, jobs, and the fall harvest. Because is there a hue and cry for talking it to death in a special session/group encounter? NO. People are seeking action. Not committee meetings.

If a person with a pulpit on the House side is asking for a long special session, one reason might be politics.

Haugaard, whose time as speaker is near an end, is in a campaign not just for State House, but an intra-caucus battle to be the next House Majority Leader. That race has been taking place behind the scenes and isn’t going away. We’ll see that come to a head in November about the time of the Governor’s budget address. (Haugaard and Kent Peterson are the major players in that contest.)

An extended special session would put Haugaard at the podium, and give him a captive audience to make his case to his colleagues as to why he should be the next majority leader. And … There’s also that rumor that just won’t go away.  Because I continue hearing about something I’ve alluded to about in the past – that there is continued chatter that Haugaard could be considering challenging Governor Noem in the 2022 gubernatorial primary.

Needless to say, not many of Haugaard’s legislative colleagues are too excited about spending more than a day on a special session, less than a month before election day. Especially when Governor Noem is already doing much of what needs to be done.  Even if they can strong-arm enough House members to get 2/3 of that body for a renewed special session, I’m told the Senate is a fairly solid NO.

And with Governor Noem as a national hero among Republicans for her freedom-based leadership during COVID, I don’t think it is an effective idea that a long special session helps Steve be majority leader or that more legislature somehow translates into him finding any oxygen to support a gubernatorial campaign to challenge Kristi.

While Steve is a nice enough person… If he’s actually thinking about running in a primary against Noem, I don’t think he’s seriously considered what would go into such a contest.

Coming off of a term as House Majority Leader gives him a slight profile above the average legislator to take on a Governor who has chastised him in the past. But you can’t ignore the public relations disasters Haugaard has had over the past couple of years: Losing a federal lawsuit for punishing a female lobbyist for stating an opinion, attempting to impose a puritanical dress code on female legislators, and the fact he seems to repeatedly butt heads with our first female Governor.

I have the feeling that the concept of Haugaard challenging Noem would literally be the most lopsided mis-match since ex-legislator Lora Hubbel challenged sitting Governor Dennis Daugaard. It wasn’t even an actual campaign, as much as a months-long complaint by Lora that no one took her seriously, and no one would help her.

By all means, let’s get the special session done, and get the federal COVID dollars allocated. But let’s not drag this on ad nauseum.

And it definitely should not be used except for any other purpose than to get the job done.

6 thoughts on “One and done, versus the never-ending special session. Haugaard campaign rumors continue.”

  1. Haugaard is quite possibly the worst Speaker of the House of all time. He has brought disrespect to the office and the House chamber with one embarrassing misstep after another. He doesn’t follow the rules or the law and instead of protecting the taxpayers’ dollars he has wasted them and wants to waste more apparently with needless special session days to promote his own self interests and idiotic ideas.

    Drain the swamp. Send Mr. Haugaard back to the rank and file where his embarrassing and boring floor speeches barely were noticed.

  2. Haugaard needs to figure out what his agenda is. He was speaker for two years. I understand that he was maybe caught off guard in his first year because prior to that he and Noem got along and supported each other. Last year he knew she hated him and the house laid an egg in having a counter agenda.

    There are many issues he could go after the governor on but he does not engage.

    The Gov asked him to pay his legal fees. He should ask her to pay back the ad money that was intended for covid relief.

    He should focus on ending lobbyist access and increasing government transparency and accountability.

    As far as my impression of both is that neither has a well thought out vision or agenda.

    Without vision hemp became the #1 issue and now we are likely to have legal marijuana.

      1. They already don’t agree. They already have an agenda. They just aren’t coherent and organized to do anything with it. Right now their agenda is opposing the gov. Obviously, some of it is philosophical and others is sour grapes. I’m just saying they should put an actual agenda together to more clearly articulate what they want.

        They are ineffective as of now. So is the gov office.

        We are going to have a session to discuss covid money and kids all over the state are finding out 10-14 days after being in close contact with positive cases. I know if Many students this is happening to. They are told to quarantine 10-14 days after the incident. This should be priority 1. Same day notification.

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