The chairman said forecasts presented Wednesday to the Legislature's budget panel about state government's fiscal year that began July 1 were both bad and good. Both estimates have been revised downward, reflecting expectations of slightly lower growth in South Dakota's economy in the months ahead, Sen. Larry Tidemann said. But Tidemann, R-Brookings, said the good news was the revisions don't require adjustments from Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the Legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations.
PIERRE — South Dakota lawmakers bore down Tuesday rather than back off their inquiry into the GEAR UP program. They agreed to seek testimony from four witnesses: Melody Schopp, who is state government's education secretary; Tamara Darnall, her financial officer; Brinda Kuhn, who wrote the original grant request for GEAR UP a decade ago and later was a paid evaluator regarding the program's effectiveness; and state Rep. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland, whose father heads the firm that audited Mid-Central Educational Cooperative at Platte.
PIERRE — The South Dakota High School Activities Association is moving forward with a special committee on its foundation, the new executive director said Tuesday. Dan Swartos said he would work with superintendents from several school districts. They will try to make recommendations for the foundation's future, he said. His remarks came during testimony to the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. The association and the foundation now have separate boards, according to Swartos.
PIERRE — The head of South Dakota’s Department of Education landed a bombshell Monday. Secretary Melody Schopp said none of the money that disappeared from a schools cooperative came from the GEAR UP program. “Our programs were on a draw-down basis,” Schopp told the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee.
PIERRE — Doug Decker, the Legislature’s chief lawyer, told lawmakers Monday they might better serve South Dakota’s taxpayers by changing state laws that allowed the GEAR UP scandal to occur, rather than pursue a parallel investigation. Decker said state law provides authority for the Government Operations and Audit Committee to subpoena state government employees.
PIERRE — There was a time in South Dakota when the Legislature's committees met behind closed doors. Your presence depended upon whether the chairmen allowed you to be there. Now we operate in a different era. The committee meetings are open. Even better, they are live-streamed through the Internet. Committee chairmen greet Internet listeners. You can be anywhere with a broadband connection. Transparency now is the golden rule. Or so some of us thought.
PIERRE — State government regulators revoked the grain-buyer licenses for a Kingsbury County business Friday. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission ordered the action against H & I Grain, of Hetland. The order pulls the state licenses issued to the company for its Hetland, De Smet and Arlington locations. The commissioners directed their staff to open a docket for dispersing the $400,000 of bond proceeds to affected farmers. Estimates of losses differed widely Friday, ranging from $1.4 million to more than $6 million.
PIERRE — South Dakota's election-assistance board recommended grants up to $9,000 apiece for eight counties from the federal Help America Vote Act fund Thursday. They are Brule $9,000; Davison $9,000; Fall River $9,000; Hughes $9,000; McCook $9,000; Potter $9,000; Sully $8,770; and Ziebach $6,300. The board voted to not-recommend Help America Vote Act assistance of $9,000 sought by Jackson County. The board also endorsed a second round of money for three counties in Indian country — one being Jackson — to operate in-person satellite voting centers.
PIERRE — Gregg Greenfield, of Sioux Falls, replaced Linda Hilde, of Madison, as secretary for state government's Board of Minerals and Environment on Thursday. Hilde hasn't attended any of the five meetings held in 2017. She wasn't at the final six meetings in 2016. She last took part by telephone Jan. 21, 2016. She was a regular participant before then. Board members chose Greenfield to succeed her Thursday. He often served as acting secretary in her absence.
PIERRE — Members of the Legislature's task force on initiatives and referendums talked Wednesday about again moving the deadline for filing voter-signed petitions that seek changes to South Dakota laws. The only decision reached, however, was setting aside legislation that would limit the number of proposed constitutional amendments, referred laws and initiated measures that could appear on a ballot. The task force chose Aug. 23 to meet for a third time, starting at 9 a.m.