This interesting bill was dropped in the hopper from State Senator Jim Bolin, a measure which purports to revise the provisions for appointing county coroners. But if you delve into the language, it appears to do much more, and remove them from laws applicable for the election of county officers:
Introduced by: Senator Bolin
An Act to revise provisions providing for the appointment of county coroners.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of South Dakota:
Section 1. That § 12-1-1.1 be AMENDED:
12-1-1.1. Laws applicable to election of county officers.
All election laws of this state relating to nomination and election of candidates for office on political ballots shall apply to the nomination and election of a sheriff, county auditor, register of deeds, treasurer, state’s attorney, and coroner and state’s attorney.
Section 2. That § 7-7-1.1 be AMENDED:
7-7-1.1. County officers to be elected quadrenially–Staggered terms–Expiration of term for combined offices.
Unless otherwise provided by county charter, at primary and general elections there shall be nominated and elected in each organized county of this state county officers as follows:
(1) In 1974 and each fourth year thereafter, a sheriff, county auditor, and register of deeds;
(2) In 1976 and each fourth year thereafter, a treasurer, state’s attorney, and coroner and state’s attorney.
The terms of all such officers shall be four years, or until their successors have been duly elected and qualified. Nevertheless, the term of any county office, combined with another pursuant to § 7-7-1.2 or 7-7-1.3, shall expire on the first Monday of January following the ordinance authorizing the combination.
Section 3. That § 7-7-1.4 be AMENDED:
7-7-1.4. Appointment of coroner in certain counties authorized.
Notwithstanding the provisions of § 7-7-1.1, the The board of county commissioners in any county with a population of seventy‑five thousand or more may, by resolution adopted by a majority vote of the commission, appoint a coroner who shall serve at the pleasure of such the board for a term no longer than four years, subject to renewal by a majority vote of the commission for subsequent terms, each no longer than four years. However, no board of county commissioners may exercise the authority granted pursuant to this section unless:
(1) Not later than the April first preceding the election for coroner, the board, by resolution, adopts the appointment option; and
(2) The appointment of any appointed coroner may not take effect until the expiration of the term of office of any duly elected coroner.
If I’m reading this measure correctly, Bolin is opining legislatively that the time is done for coroners to be an elected position in the State of South Dakota, and it can just be appointed by the County Commissioners.
At least in my experience working elections.. I can count on one hand the number of coroner elections over 30 years that might have been somewhat contested. And that might be more attributable to personalities and ego versus a genuine public or philosophical interest by the public on having someone in the coroner’s job.
Realistically, I think the time is here for it to be an appointed position. I think the County Commissioners can handle the appointment of this position, especially in rural counties where they might struggle to find a funeral director or physician who is willing to do the job.