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  [SD] Democrats eager to test gains in Pierre
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ContributorThe Sunset Provision 
Last EditedThe Sunset Provision  Jan 01, 2007 01:00pm
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MediaNewspaper - Sioux Falls Argus-Leader
News DateMonday, January 1, 2007 06:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionPIERRE - In nine days, when the 2007 South Dakota Legislature opens a 40-day run, Democrats will begin to discover how much punch their five new Senate seats carry.

Democrats remain the minority in both houses, but their five-seat gain in the Senate after November's voting sparked speculation that there'd be a new game in town. No more two-thirds Republican majority to overwhelm the opposition.

The leadership selections by the two political caucuses of Sioux Falls lawyers who have a cordial personal relationship heightened the sense of change.

Republican Sen. David Knudson, elected majority party leader, and Democrat Sen. Scott Heidepriem, the new minority party leader, predict their comfortable personal ties will carry over into sometimes spirited but never personal political debates.

One test of that new-found Democratic strength - and of the working relationship between Knudson and Heidepriem - could come over education funding and, specifically, how much more interest might be taken from an education enhancement trust fund.

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