The 18 women who will be in the state House of Representatives for the 2013 session that starts Tuesday are the largest number in the history of the South Dakota Legislature.
The previous highs for the House, which has 70 members total, were 16 in 1987 and 17 in 1988. There were 14 last year.
Nearly half of the 18 women in the House this year are brand-new legislators.
The eight are: Mary Duvall, R-Pierre; Christine Erickson, R-Sioux Falls; Anne Hajek, R-Sioux Falls; Paula Hawks, D-Hartford; Elizabeth May, R-Kyle; Nancy Rasmussen, R-Hurley; Karen Soli, D-Sioux Falls; and Kathy Tyler, D-Big Stone City.
Nine women are returning to the House for new terms.
They are Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City; Peggy Gibson, D-Huron; Jenna Haggar, R-Sioux Falls; Melissa Magstadt, R-Watertown; Patty Miller, R-McCook Lake; Betty Olson, R-Prairie City; Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell; Jacqueline Sly, R-Rapid City; and Susan Wismer, D-Britton.
One woman who is a former legislator and returned after a break in service will be serving again in the House. She is Julie Bartling, D-Gregory. She previously was in the House and the Senate.
There will be six women in the Senate, which has a total of 35 members. The six is a decrease from last year’s seven women. The Senate’s female membership peaked at 11 in the 1991-92 term.
The Legislature had a record total of 26 women in the 1991-92 term. One reason was Democratic organizers emphasized recruiting women as candidates in the 1990 elections.
Of the 11 women in the Senate that term, nine were Democrats and two were Republicans. In the House, the 15 women were split, with six Democrats and nine Republicans.