Guest Column: One Senator’s Summary of Session

One Senator’s Summary of Session
by Sen. Brent “B.R.” Hoffman
“There are two things you should never see up close:  making sausage and politics.”
Otto Bismark
It’s not easy to explain the legislative process.  While the end result may be a new law, the route it took to get there is often circuitous or haphazard, as the process is mostly built on precedent and personal relationships.  It’s not easy to follow, nor is it for the faint of heart.
Though the process can be messy (“making sausage”), it still seems to work, and so it’s important to share information on new resolutions, landmark laws or dead bills that may be of interest to you.  So here below, I’ve summarized the main proposals I presented as the prime sponsor this last legislative session, and I’ll hope you find it interesting.
Nuclear Energy Interim Legislative Committee (SCR601), a concurrent resolution, passed cleanly through the Senate (34-0) and House (63-5).  The next step is consideration by the Legislative Executive Board, and if selected, a study on nuclear energy would take place this summer.
Limited Parole for Violent Offenders (SB146), a landmark law and order bill, cleared the Senate (29-4) and House (53-17).  This legislation is focused on higher-level, violent felonies and is sometimes called “Truth in Sentencing.”  The bill is currently under consideration in the governor’s office.
Constitutional Amendment for Term Limits (SJR504), a joint resolution, would limit terms of service for senators and representatives to eight years.  Currently, legislators can serve without limit as long as they switch between chambers, take a break or are reappointed.  Though the resolution failed in committee (8-1), an initiated amendment has been filed for petitions to place it on the ballot.  Term limits have never passed the state legislature, but have never failed at the ballot box.
Promoting the State Motto (SB133), a simple bill, would’ve replaced the tourism slogan (“Great Faces, Great Places”) on state license plates with the state motto: “Under God the People Rule.”  Though the bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee (5-1), it was defeated in the Senate (23-12).
Presiding Officer of State Senate (Rule S1-1) is a proposal to empower the state senate, rather than the executive branch, to preside over the state senate.  The rule change moved forward from the Legislative Procedures Committee (7-0).  The Legislative Research Council will study and “develop a proposal” prior to the next session.
In addition to these bills, I co-sponsored a number of other bills, and as always, you’re welcome to contact me for additional details.  It’s an honor to work for you in the state senate, and I thank you for the opportunity.


The author served a career in the military, surviving the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.  He’s a published author, occasional newspaper columnist and currently serves as a state senator for District 9, which includes western Sioux Falls, Hartford and Wall Lake.

4 thoughts on “Guest Column: One Senator’s Summary of Session”

  1. I like your thinking and tracking right along with exception of “Presiding Officer of State Senate (Rule S1-1)”. I have more research to do on that but off the top, doesn’t seem to carry water and explain the reasoning behind it. I like the analogy, “making sausage” because SD is pretty fulfilling!

    1. Thanks for your comments, sir. It’s difficult to explain “Presiding Officer” briefly, but unlike most state legislatures and the U.S. Senate, the SD State Senate is currently “presided over” by a member of the executive branch…in this case, the Lieutenant Governor (LG). While our LG is highly-respected and does a great job, the state senate would be more efficient, accountable and independent (in my opinion) if it were presided over by the senators. The LRC is studying the proposal and will have some information to share about it before the next session. If you have more questions, you’re welcome to contact me directly anytime. Thank you, all the best.

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