PIERRE — State legislators made a little more progress Monday on political and government ethical reforms. A House committee endorsed revisions to the state's conflict of interest laws sought by Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls. Meanwhile a Senate committee killed a campaign finance regulatory panel that Secretary of State Shantel Krebs wanted. The same committee then began consideration of a massive rewrite of South Dakota's campaign finance laws that Krebs has proposed.
PIERRE — A panel of state senators recommended Monday asking South Dakota voters to amend the state Constitution so future constitutional amendments would be more difficult, while the full Senate decided voters should receive fiscal-impact information about ballot measures. The Senate voted 27-5 Monday to require fiscal analysis notes for initiated measures and constitutional amendments if there is a potential cost. SB 177 now heads to the House for consideration. Debate on the fiscal notes requirement began last week and resumed Monday.
PIERRE — A legislative panel supported a new requirement Monday that state plows should remove snow and ice from the full width of state highways through South Dakota's many smaller communities. The Senate Local Government Committee voted 4-2 to endorse passage of Sen. Ryan Maher's measure, SB 58. The full Senate could vote on it as early as Wednesday afternoon.
PIERRE—Former state Sen. Dan Lederman, of Dakota Dunes, defeated incumbent Pam Roberts, of Pierre, to become the new chairman for the South Dakota Republican Party on Saturday. The announced vote was 73-53 for Lederman. Roberts has been chairwoman for the past two years. She had the endorsement of Gov. Dennis Daugaard for another term. "Wow! I'm going to make you all regret that, because I'm going to put you to work," Lederman declared, in remarks immediately after the result of the private ballot of state central committee members was announced.
PIERRE — Even though Initiated Measure 22 isn't in effect because the Legislature repealed it, IM 22 is affecting the Legislature in many ways. There is more bipartisanship. There is more consideration of ethical reforms. There is less party-line unity among the super-majorities of Republicans that run both chambers. But one big piece of IM 22 is off the table. That's the state-financed Democracy Credit campaign funding system. No legislator tried to bring that idea back.
PIERRE — There is a saying in the halls of the Legislature that almost nothing is truly dead until the lawmakers end their annual session in March. A few days ago, the state Board of Regents became the latest to prove that true. Thirteen senators changed their minds and switched sides on a measure to give the regents more budget freedom regarding South Dakota's public universities. Specifically, SB 19 would establish two accounts in the state treasury for federal and other contracts, grants and cooperative agreements.
PIERRE -- Consolidated Edison Development received approval Friday to take over a complaint filed with the state Public Utilities Commission against Northwestern Energy. Consolidated Edison purchased a company that has been attempting to force Northwestern to purchase electricity from three wind-energy sites within Northwestern’s territory in South Dakota.
PIERRE — The Legislature's budget panel gave its crucial blessing Thursday to Northern State University constructing a science center paid through $25.1 million of gifts. The 15-1 vote by members of Joint Committee on Appropriations came after a hearing that ran more than one hour. NSU President Tim Downs portrayed the project as part of an effort to increase the university's enrollment by 500 students in the next few years.
PIERRE — Spink County would become eligible for special non-resident three-day waterfowl hunting licenses with legislation that flew through the state Senate Wednesday. SB 123 heads to the House of Representatives next. Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, spoke for adding Spink to a bloc of counties — Brown, Marshall, Roberts, Day, Grant, Clark, Codington, Deuel and Hamlin — where 500 of the licenses already are available.
PIERRE — Agriculture landowners in South Dakota could get 40 percent off their property taxes on buffer strips to help clean runoff flowing into lakes, rivers and streams under a measure approved Wednesday in the state Senate. Debate began Monday but there was a two-day delay to consider an amendment so that landowners wouldn't have to annually file for the reduction. Sen. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre, withdrew the amendment Wednesday. The vote was 34-0. The legislation, SB 66, now goes to the House of Representatives.