Rollie Chicoine served 20 years in the Legislature. There have been 28 lawmakers who spent 20 to 24 years in the Capitol’s east and west wings, and 12 more who gave 25 to 30 years. No one served more than 30. The only current legislator among those 40 is Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, who’s seeking re-election this year. Services for Roland A. Chicoine, a farmer and a Democrat from the Jefferson and Elk Point area of Union County, are Wednesday.
He was born Dec. 10, 1922. He died Thursday. His time as a legislator spanned the coming of term limits. His 20 years came in three consecutive stints: 1981-86 in the House; 1987-92 in the Senate; and 1993-2000 back in the House.
His wife, Evelyn, and he married in 1945. They had eight children. One of the sons, David, recently moved to a faculty post at South Dakota State University after serving as the university’s president. Rollie ran track at what then was South Dakota State College before World War II. He was a leader in agriculture, 4-H, water development, the Elk Point community and his local Catholic Church.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has asked that flags be lowered to half-staff Wednesday in his honor.
You can get a sampling of Rollie Chicoine’s politics from the legislation he sponsored. In the 1997 session, for example, he sought to ban discriminatory pricing of drugs and prohibit hog farming operations from operating in South Dakota if they had committed major environmental violations.
The last bill on which he was prime sponsor, in 2000, called for the state Department of Revenue to conduct a study to use agricultural income value as the basis for charging taxes on agricultural property. Chicoine served on the interim legislative committee on tax assessments that recommended that bill. The House passed the bill, voting 58-2, but the Senate killed it.
The House had also passed a companion bill the same day, limiting the study to nine counties; Rep. Jim Lintz, R-Hill City, was its prime sponsor. It too was recommended by the interim committee, of which Lintz was a member. The Senate approved that bill, which also called for appointment of a task force by the governor. Both measures relied on SDSU’s agriculture economics faculty to develop data. Agricultural income value is the system now used in South Dakota. There were plenty of hard-head politics in those days, too, but the work by Chicoine and Lintz, and then-Rep. Kenneth McNenny, R-Sturgis, and then-Sen. Paul Symens, D-Amherst and others from both parties on the interim committee, showed big things got done, too.