PIERRE — I am a newspaperman. My reputation precedes me. And what that reputation is, depends, greatly, on you. To some, I am to be avoided. Among others, I am welcomed. For many, I matter less and less. For those who don't care, I am nothing. This week, my range of reality expanded. We — my wife, Ellen, and I — received good news from my brain doctors at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The MRI on Monday showed space between my skull and my brain. The black gap wasn't there on my previous MRI, taken March 16.
PIERRE — Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy received regulatory approval Thursday for their 2016 economic development reports and 2017 economic development plans. The state Public Utilities Commission accepted the two sets of summaries from the investor-owned companies on separate 3-0 votes. The economic development spending reflects individual agreements reached between each of the companies and the commission.
PIERRE — The state Board of Regents met by teleconference Thursday and gave the go-ahead for $13 million of bonds to help pay for an expansion of the performing arts center at South Dakota State University in Brookings. The December cost estimate for the project was $48 million. That amount reflects $29 million from gifts and $6 million from the city of Brookings. University officials also have agreed to pay interest on the project through at least 2021 or 2022, according to Monte Kramer, the regents vice president for finance and administration.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission designated a six-mile radius Thursday as the affected area for Otter Tail Power Company's proposed electricity plant in Deuel County. But the affected area would stop at the state border, rather than extend into Minnesota's Lincoln County, the commission decided. The project, called Astoria Station, would burn natural gas and generate approximately 250 megawatts during periods of high electricity use.
PIERRE — The Legislature's task force on non-meandered waters worked at an aggressive pace during the first meeting Thursday, taking testimony from a line-up of key players and choosing May 9-10 in Aberdeen for the next meeting. A South Dakota Supreme Court decision last month found neither landowners nor sportsmen have recreation rights that rank higher than the other on non-meandered waters.
PIERRE — The state Board of Internal Control made a little more progress Wednesday on creating standard financial forms for state government departments and offices to use. The Legislature established the board one year ago, at the suggestion of Gov. Dennis Daugaard, in response to state Department of Legislative Audit findings. The six members who attended the hour-long meeting Wednesday at the Capitol focused much of their time on exemptions for two agencies: the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services.
PIERRE — The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued the latest version of its general water pollution control permit for concentrated animal feeding operations throughout South Dakota last week. DENR Secretary Steve Pirner approved the revised permit March 10. That set a 30-day clock running for interveners to challenge the revised permit's conditions in state circuit court. However, no one appealed during the window of time.
PIERRE — South Dakota's auditor general, Marty Guindon, has been on the GEAR UP trail now for four years. He met Tuesday with state lawmakers who form the executive committee of the Legislature's Executive Board. "We have one interview left," he told them. For the benefit of new members, he presents the timeline Tuesday to the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. "I will not be discussing the reports or the findings contained in those reports at Tuesday's meeting as they are not yet ready for release," he said Friday.
PIERRE — U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem came out strongly again Friday against Planned Parenthood and called for government-wide application of the Hyde Amendment banning Medicaid coverage for abortions. "I believe every life, including an unborn baby's life, has dignity and value," she wrote in her weekly column. Noem is running for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, as is state Attorney General Marty Jackley.
PIERRE — Leaders at the nonpartisan agency that is the hub of operations for the Legislature want to improve communications with lawmakers, especially during the nine months of the year outside the regular legislative session. Legislative Research Council officials outlined their plans to the Executive Board on Tuesday. They intend to better spread the word about what various legislative panels are doing, using techniques such as blast emails. Legislators are asking for more information, according to Sue Cichos, who is the LRC deputy director.