PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard backs a plan by U.S. Senate Republicans to let each state design a system to replace Obamacare health insurance, a spokesman said Friday. The proposal would provide some advantages to South Dakota, according to Tony Venhuizen, the governor's chief of staff. He listed these reasons for Daugaard's support: • It brings parity in funding between expansion and non-expansion states by 2026, which is favorable to SD as a non-expansion state; • It has a high level of state flexibility for use of the funds;
PIERRE — State government's Board of Minerals and Environment unanimously accepted findings of fact and conclusions of law Thursday regarding a failed attempt by Quartz Operations to drill an oil well near Wasta in eastern Pennington County. The hearing focused on whether Woodford Construction Co. could collect $58,617.16, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, from $130,000 of surety that Quartz posted. Board members dismissed the construction company's request.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Aeronautics Commission is scheduled next week to discuss six proposals for improving public airports. They are: • Martin $316,666.67 for an airport master plan; • Pierre $888,888.89 for a boarding bridge; • Redfield $3,920,000 for runway construction; • Rosebud $228,000 for snow removal equipment; • Sisseton $170,000 for runway reconstruction design; and • Watertown $895,000 for construction of hangar taxilane expansion, including design.
PIERRE — State government's Judicial Qualifications Commission sent six names for Gov. Dennis Daugaard to consider as the successor to retired Justice Lori Wilbur on the South Dakota Supreme Court. The governor traveled to Sioux Falls last week and interviewed each of the six. On Tuesday, he announced his choice. South Dakota Supreme Court's new justice will be Circuit Judge Steven Jensen of Dakota Dunes.
PIERRE — Property values set this year by equalization directors for farms and ranches were close to the mark in most South Dakota counties, a state official said Monday. The laggards for cropland were: • Butte 16 percent; • Campbell 18 percent; • Corson 55 percent; • Harding 22 percent; and • Perkins 15 percent. • Lake was 33 percent behind for non-cropland. South Dakota has 66 counties.
South Dakota's new system for school accountability moved forward Monday. State government's Board of Education Standards approved the proposed rules. No one testified during a public hearing at Northern State University in Aberdeen. The proceeding was available to listeners through a teleconference and the Internet. The final step is consideration by the Legislature's Rules Review Committee. That will come at one of the committee's remaining meetings Sept. 25 and Nov. 14. The rules conform to the federal government Every Student Succeeds Act.
I purposely don't register to vote, because I don't want to be tempted to vote, at least not while I'm still a newspaper reporter. I'm not a billionaire, either. But there is a billionaire named Robert Mercer. He too goes by Bob. Our middle names differ. I'm Michael. He's Leroy. We have different wives. He is married to Diana. I'm married to Ellen. Bob and Diana have three daughters. Ellen and I have a daughter and a son. I never worked for IBM Research or for the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Bob Mercer did, but not this Bob Mercer.
PIERRE — Ryan Brunner, state government's commissioner of school and public lands, wants to trade 58.5 acres of public lands that South Dakota owns in rural Hand and Spink counties for 7.5 acres of private property listed for sale in Huron next to the State Fair. The state Department of Agriculture currently pays $2,500 per year to lease the Huron property. Livestock trailers and carnival trailers park there during events at the fairgrounds. The Huron parcel at the fair's southeast corner is valued at $104,900. The state lands are appraised at $117,366.03.
PIERRE — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard wants Sept. 19 to be Ben Reifel (Lone Feather) Day in South Dakota. The announcement came Friday afternoon from state government's Department of Tribal Relations. Reifel, a Republican, won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960 and served five consecutive terms. He was the first American Indian from South Dakota to serve in Congress. He retired rather than seek a sixth term in 1970. Reifel, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was born Sept. 19, 1906, in a log cabin at Parmalee.
PIERRE — Trustees for the State Historical Society approved a smaller budget for Deadwood historic preservation Friday. The 2018 budget is $6,901,440. The 2017 operating budget of $6,950,000 was about $50,000 smaller than the 2016 amount and about $122,000 less than for 2015. "Gaming is flat and has been dropping," Kevin Kuchenbecker, the city's historic preservation officer, told trustees. State law provides budget authority to the board.