PIERRE — A change made by the Legislature earlier this year will pay off next year for most employers that contribute to South Dakota's unemployment insurance program. All things staying equal, they would fork over about $4.8 million less in 2018 than they are forecast to pay this calendar year, state UI director Pauline Heier said Wednesday. Lawmakers decided in March to reduce the contribution rate by 0.10 percent in nearly every bracket if a specific ratio was 1.60 or higher.
PIERRE — The Wednesday meeting of state government’s Railroad Board was the last for Chairman Todd Yeaton. The manager of the Kimball grain-loading terminal said he wouldn’t seek reappointment when his current term expired Oct. 30. He served more than 14 years. Yeaton made the announcement after reading the now-standard invitation for current or past members of the board to publicly declare any conflicts of interest.
PIERRE — Nick Wendell has been hired as the executive director of the South Dakota Board of Technical Education. The board unanimously approved his hiring during a special meeting today in Pierre. Wendell is now the director of the Center for Student Engagement at South Dakota State University in Brookings. He'll start his new job Nov. 6.
PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard has selected a new member for the State Library Board and a new member for the South Dakota Veterans Commission. He chose Brooks T. Schild, a science teacher at Yankton Middle School, to succeed Michael Birnbaum of Rapid City on the veterans panel. Then-Gov. Mike Rounds originally appointed Birnbaum in 2006. Daugaard reappointed him in 2011. For the library board, Daugaard selected Tom Nelson of Spearfish to succeed Diane Olson of Mitchell.
PIERRE — Five pieces of legislation received recommendations this week from a state government panel looking at possible changes to South Dakota's campaign finance laws. The Legislature established the Government Accountability Task Force during the 2017 session. The group's recommended bills will be introduced in the 2018 session. There are four Democratic legislators, four Republican legislators and three people representing Republicans elected as governor, secretary of state and attorney general.
The third-quarter financial reports are online for candidates seeking South Dakota’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 election. Democratic candidate Tim Bjorkman of Canistota reported contributions of $72,459.20 in the third quarter — and the first for his campaign — and net spending of $26,705.04. Bjorkman also reported that he loaned the campaign $50,000. His campaign balance as of Sept. 30, 2017, was $95,754.16.
PIERRE — In an opinion issued Sept. 20, 2017, the South Dakota Supreme Court handed citizens a significant victory. The justices, in a 4-1 decision, ruled the presumption of openness should prevail on public records. The Legislature, back in 2009, purposely placed the presumption of openness at the top of South Dakota's laws regarding public records. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader achieved this victory for the public. Its lawyer, Jon Arneson, deserves credit.
PIERRE — President Donald Trump's declaration that he's cutting off federal subsidies to health insurance providers participating in the Affordable Care Act program — aka Obamacare — means companies get a brief chance to re-file their rates for 2018. That's according to Larry Dieter. He is director for the South Dakota Division of Insurance. President Trump, a Republican, signed an executive order late Thursday eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance providers.
PIERRE — State government's Transportation Commission said no Thursday to all four bids received for replacing a box culvert on Cheyenne Creek in rural Potter County. Sharpe Enterprises Inc., of Fort Pierre, submitted the lowest one of $591,695.25. The state Department of Transportation's estimate was $458,854.50. The project seven miles northwest of Gettysburg would be offered again later this fall or winter, according to Mike Behm, the department's director of planning and engineering. "We feel we can make some changes," Behm said after the meeting.
PIERRE — Otter Tail Power Co. wants permission from South Dakota regulators to construct an electricity production plant in Deuel County. The 250-megawatt facility, known as Astoria Station, would be in Scandinavia Township on the north side of State Highway 28. The site is about 1.5 miles northwest of Astoria and about four miles east of Toronto. Natural gas from the Northern Border pipeline that runs through the company's recently acquired property would be used to generate the electricity.