PIERRE — State senators agreed Monday with a stripped-down version of changes in the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.
It would broaden eligibility requirements for the governor’s two appointees to the commission and would allow the State Bar’s commissioners to choose the bar’s three appointees, who currently are appointed by the bar’s president.
Two judges selected by the judicial system also serve on the commission.
The vote was 28-4 to accept the House version of the bill. Senate Bill 198 now heads to the governor for his decision.
Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg, originally wanted the Legislature to have two seats on the commission so that all three branches of state government were involved.
But, he said, the House of Representatives felt legislators shouldn’t be involved with the commission.
“The other two pieces that are still left are important,” Brown said.
One of the commission’s major roles is to screen applicants and make recommendations to the governor for appointment to vacancies for circuit judges and Supreme Court justices.
Its other major role is to oversee behavior, conduct and fitness of sitting judges and justices.
Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, said legislators speak for the people and they should have representation on the commission, even if it’s a minority position.
Brown agreed in philosophy, but said he “can do the math” and doesn’t see sufficient support in the House.
Senators rejected Adelstein’s attempt to send the measure to a conference committee for further negotiations with the House.