Here's the second proposal I've worked up from your suggestions for bills for the 2014 Legislative session. With Governor Dennis Daugaard now considering his seventh appointment for a Legislative vacancy, this bill seems particularly timely. I invite your questions, clarifications, amendments, and rebuttals!

Madville Times Bill 102

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to revise the process for filling vacancies in the South Dakota Legislature.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1.1: If a vacancy occurs in the office of a senator or representative in the South Dakota Legislature, the Governor shall immediately appoint the losing candidate with the highest vote total from the immediately preceding general or special election from the district in which the vacancy has occurred.

Section 1.2: If that losing candidate is ineligible or unwilling to serve, the Governor shall appoint the losing candidate with the next highest vote total.

Section 1.3: If no losing general or special election candidate is available to serve, the Governor shall appoint the losing candidate with the highest vote total from the immediately preceding primary election.

Section 1.4: If no general, special, or primary candidate is available to serve, the seat remains vacant until an election can be held to fill the vacancy.

Section 2.1: If a vacancy occurs in the office of a senator or representative in the South Dakota Legislature, and if the Governor cannot appoint an eligible candidate under the above provisions,  candidates wishing to fill that vacancy may circulate nominating petitions for that vacancy. Candidates must submit nominating petitions to the Secretary of State within twenty days of the occurrence of the vacancy.

Section 2.2: If only one eligible candidate submits a valid nominating petition, that candidate automatically assumes the vacant seat for the remainder of the term.

Section 2.3: If more than one eligible candidate submits a valid nominating petition, an election will be held in the district to choose a legislator to fill the vacant seat for the remainder of the term.

Section 2.4: The Secretary of State, in consultation with local election officials, shall set a special election date not earlier than eighty but not later the ninety days after the occurrence of the vacancy.

Section 3: The legislator vacating the seat shall remit to the Secretary of State's office an amount equal to the amount of cash on hand reported on the legislator's last campaign finance statement filed with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State shall use these remittances to reimburse local election boards for costs incurred in legislative special elections.