Bob Mercer reports from the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre for The Daily Republic and other newspapers around the state.
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- 5 months 3 weeks
FORT PIERRE -- Boaters in South Dakota will want to heed the manufacturer's capacity plates on their watercraft or risk running afoul of law enforcement. The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission adopted a new rule Thursday against overloading. It makes illegal the operation of any boat beyond its stated capacities for persons, weight and total horsepower. The Legislature's rules review committee will decide in the coming weeks whether to give the go-ahead for it to take effect.
PIERRE -- Wheat Growers CEO Dale Locken told another group of South Dakota legislators Thursday about his company's plans if the state-owned railroad line that runs west from Chamberlain is rehabilitated. He said the Aberdeen-based company will invest $40 million at Lyman for a grain loading and fertilizer distribution center once heavy rail reaches there from Chamberlain. Wheat Growers has operations in 37 communities and 600 employees serving some 17,000 farmers, according to Locken.
PIERRE -- The Legislature is ending its management of waterfowl licenses for non-resident hunters in South Dakota and is shifting nearly all responsibility back to the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission. The decision comes after more than a half-century of controversy about how many people from outside South Dakota can hunt ducks and geese here. Non-residents were banned from 1947 to 1969. The current legislation, HB 1185, delegating more authority to the commission is now on its way to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his decision whether to sign it into law.
FORT PIERRE -- South Dakota's archery deer season might open two weeks earlier under a proposal made Thursday by the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission. The commission's decision came in response to a formal petition from the South Dakota Bowhunters organization asking that the season open on the second Saturday of September. The season normally starts on the fourth Saturday of September. A public hearing on the proposed change will be at 2 p.m. April 3 when the commission next meets at Cedar Shore Resort at Oacoma.
If unclaimed property continued flowing into the state treasury at the 2015 rate, the Legislature would have some $88 million from 2015 through 2017, to use for economic development, education and housing. The governor's plan caps that at $10 million per year.
PIERRE -- The legislative hearing set for Friday morning might be the only one that will be held regarding financial practices in the Governor's Office of Economic Development and its involvement in the federal EB-5 immigrant investor program. The Legislature's joint committee on government operations and audit -- known as GOAC -- will receive reports from two private audit firms and the state Department of Legislative Audit, followed by a briefing from Pat Costello, the governor's commissioner of economic development.
PIERRE -- A new panel might be created to recommend which South Dakota cities should host state competitions for high school students and teams. The proposal from the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors Tuesday is patterned on North Dakota's system. The South Dakota version would use five tournament directors and three of the association's directors. They would meet twice annually to review criteria and recommend locations for events.
PIERRE -- A third generation of the Dougherty family is at the state Capitol this winter working at the legislative session. The latest is Catie Dougherty, 17. The senior from O'Gorman High School in Sioux Falls is spending two weeks as a Senate page. "It's really fascinating to see how it works," she said. She couldn't hide the thrill when she was allowed to strike the Senate president's gavel during one of her first days.
Pregnancy help centers will now be required to submit a list of licensed counselors to the state.
PIERRE -- A requirement that South Dakota schools give students time each day to salute the U.S. flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance won final legislative approval Tuesday. Senators voted 35-0 for the measure. The House of Representatives had approved it 70-0 two weeks ago. Next stop is the desk of Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his decision whether to sign it into law. Students would be allowed to not participate but would be required to maintain "a respectful silence" during the salute.