Russell Olson elected Senate Majority Leader
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
District 8 Sen. Russell Olson of Madison considers it an extreme honor to be elected unanimously as Senate Majority Leader for another two years.|
"It is a great reassurance that my colleagues appreciate my leadership style and that they are confident in the direction we are headed," Olson said Tuesday (today), a day after he was re-elected by the Republican caucus.
Chosen as assistant majority leader was Sen. Tim Rave of Baltic. Sen. Corey Brown of Gettysburg was elected president pro tempore.
Elected last week to his fourth term representing Dist. 8, and his third term in the Senate, Olson said that he approaches his leadership position in a way that ensures all members of the Senate have an opportunity to participate and be active in the decision-making process where effective policy development is concerned.
"I treat the minority party with the same respect as I would want to receive if the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak, and I were in the minority," Olson said. "I have a great working relationship with Senator (Jason) Frerichs and I hope that we can work together for the next two years as well as we have in the past."
Frerichs served the past two years as Senate Minority Leader. Both Olson and Frerichs sit on the Senate Affairs Committee, Frerichs being the lone Democrat. Olson said there have been several occasions where he has provided a second to a motion by Frerichs to allow him the opportunity to speak on an issue.
"Many party-line Republicans have questioned that operating procedure, but I personally feel it is the right thing to do, and I think most South Dakotans would agree," Olson said.
The president pro tempore presides over the Senate when the lieutenant governor is absent. The full Senate will officially elect the new president pro tempore.
Rave replaces Brown as assistant majority leader. As whip last term, Rave consistently offered his assistance to Olson at the beginning and end of the day.
"This gives me great confidence that our caucus has selected an excellent assistant majority leader," Olson said.
Olson said Brown served as an effective assistant majority leader and as chair of the appropriations committee -- two positions that take a lot of time and energy.
"With the combination of the two, Corey provided a deadly one-two punch when I needed affirmation on where a budget request lined up with our policy agenda," Olson said.
Appointed whips this year are Sens. Ryan Maher, Larry Rhoden and Dan Lederman.
"These guys are seasoned legislators (who) will quickly relate to our new and diverse caucus," Olson said.
Republicans will hold a 28-7 edge over Democrats in the Senate when the legislative session opens in January.
House Republicans and Democrats in both chambers pick their leaders later this week.