HB 1041 Sent to Senate Floor
By Travis Berg
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill revising the statutory duties of circuit court judges. It clarifies the availability of a judge based on workload. SDPB's Travis Berg reports the main arguments are how to utilize resources.
There are seven judicial circuits, and seven judges preside over them. Several counties make up each circuit. Currently, judges are present in some counties two days out of the month. House Bill 1041 allows them to reschedule appearances and preside in areas with more cases to hear. Opponents say the bill will abandon the rural areas. Republican Senator Eldon Nygaard says the counties will bear the load.
Nygaard says, "I just think this is a slipper slope. I think as we move down this way we take more resources away, or we cause them to spend more resources that don't have."
Proponents say it's not an attempt to abandon counties. Republican Senator Joni Cutler says the bill is an efficient use of a judge's time.
Cutler says, "We can't forget there's a balance in this. And, if due to the change in demographics, we need to give them more flexibility. I think that's what we're doing in the bill."
The bill was narrowly sent to the Senate floor by a four to three vote. For SDPB, I'm Travis Berg in Pierre.
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