With her apparent entrance into the Congressional race, former State Representative Liz May, a former leader of the Conservative Republican Caucus would appear to be positioning herself to run to the right of incumbent Congressman Dusty Johnson. But a cursory look at her legislative record would seem to give a different impression of the self-labeled conservative.
The last bill May was a prime sponsor of, 2018’s House Bill 1310, seems to have been anything but what many South Dakotans would consider conservative.
Withdrawn by May before it could get a first hearing, Liz May’s final bill – House Bill 1310 – proposed to raise legislative salaries starting in 2019 from $6000 annually to 1/5 the median household income for South Dakotans:
2-4-2. The salary of each member of the Legislature is six thousand dollars equal to one-fifth of the most recent median household income in the state as published by the United States Census Bureau for every the regular legislative session in 2019. The salary shall be increased or decreased annually in accordance with the consumer price index for the preceding year as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor. No increase in salary under this section may be in excess of three percent.
In 2018, that figure was somewhere in the neighborhood of $56,499, giving legislators under May’s proposal an increase to $11,299.80 annually, or a massive bump of $5299.80 – nearly doubling legislative salaries, along with an annual escalator built in based on the consumer price index, up to 3% annually.
There’s no information immediately available to note why May found a doubling of legislative salaries was to be justified, and no explanation had to be given, as the measure was withdrawn by May before it could be heard in the House State Affairs committee.
In the months that came after, May ran again for the legislature and lost her seat, coming in 4th out of the 4 House candidates in the race in a largely Democrat leaning district.
With her upcoming entrance into the race against incumbent Republican Congressman Dusty Johnson, Liz May might be expecting as part of her effort in the race to challenge Johnson’s record. But in joining the race, she also places her own legislative record under scrutiny.
And when the final bill she offered was to double her legislative salary, as part of her preparation for running for Congress she probably needs to be ready to explain to voters why.