The pay rate for South Dakota State Legislators is the subject of Section 2-4-2 of the codified laws. Since 1999, legislators are paid $6000 for each year. Additionally, they receive a per diem of $123 (up from $110 in 2013); for a 35 day session like 2014, stretching from mid-January to the end of March, that's an additional $4305 to cover such living expense as food, lodging, and laundry.


(from Rapid City Journal)

The South Dakota Legislature was established in 1889, with legislators paid $5 per session and meeting every other year. A flat rate was set at $1050 in 1947, raised to $1800 in 1957.

Voters approved annual meetings of the Legislature in 1962, meeting for longer sessions in odd years. In 1965, pay was set at $1200 for the shorter sessions. This would change in 1969 to $5000 for a two year term, and then $8000 in 1989. Finally, legislator pay was set at $6000 per year in 1999.

Legislative Action

In the years since the last raise, some legislators have tried to get additional raises passed. Rep. Larry Lucas argued for a $2000 increase in 2008, saying legislators were now making 35% less than they did 30 years ago. His bill passed the House, but was tabled by the Senate.

Reacting to the recession, Rep. Shantel Krebs proposed legislative pay be cut by 30% in 2010, but the bill never made it out of committee.

Legislators were successful in increasing their per diem from $110 to $123 in 2013. Following up on that in 2014, a proposal was made to increase annual pay to $10,000, with a twist; new legislators in 2015 would receive the $10,000, but any legislator currently serving wouldn't be paid more than $6000 until 2017. The bill failed to pass the Senate.

In 2016, a bill was proposed to pay legislators $500 a month for the nine months the legislature is not in session, with house and senate leaders receiving an additional month. This increase was termed as "constituent service expense" to cover meetings with constituents, postage, office supplies, and other expenses.


Legislators in South Dakota rank near the bottom in pay. In part, this is because South Dakota has a gold or citizen legislature; members work about half as much as a full time job, and tend to have smaller staffs. Neighboring states Wyoming and North Dakota also have gold legislatures; Wyoming legislators make $2550 a year, while North Dakota legislators take home $12,560 (in both states, members get bonuses if they are further away from the state capital). Further comparisons can be seen here.

More Information

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