PIERRE -- Rather than make the public come to them, the Legislature's interim committee on highway needs and financing hits the road this month, hoping to hear directly from officials and business people across South Dakota. The 15 lawmakers will fan out in sub-groups for a six-city schedule of hearings, with two meetings today and two more Wednesday. They start in Yankton this morning (11 a.m. at the regional technical education center) and move to Sioux Falls this afternoon (4 p.m. at the Southeast Technical Institute's Sullivan Center). Sen.
PIERRE -- Licensed sales of fireworks surpassed $10 million last year in South Dakota, according to the state Department of Revenue. The total of $10,268,402 might be the highest yet. "It seems to be for at least as far back as we readily have the numbers but I cannot say it was a record in 2013," revenue official Douglas Schinkel said. By contrast, 2012 sales reached only $7,676,887. That was a decrease from previous years. Sales in 2011 were $9,386,872.
One year after South Dakota lawmakers commissioned an outside review, the old senior managers are gone from the Legislative Research Council. The new executive director, Jason Hancock, starts Aug. 5. The Legislature's Executive Board put the rest of the new leadership regime in place before Hancock was selected. Among the changes, women for the first time are in several top spots, including the new post of deputy director. Hancock, the deputy chief of staff for the Idaho Department of Education, replaces Jim Fry as director. Fry, who was 65, resigned Sept.
PIERRE — The state Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to take another look at its regulations for mowing ditches along South Dakota highways. The move is in response to one of the eight recommendations from the governor's work group on pheasant habitat. The current state rule prohibits mowing of the right of way in Gregory, Lyman and Tripp counties before June 15 and in all counties east of the Missouri River before July 1. The mowing rule is intended to help protect hen pheasants while they are nesting and pheasant chicks after they hatch. "The governor has requested the comm
PIERRE — After two tie votes and many minutes of agonizing, the state Transportation Commission decided Thursday to start this fall on the U.S. 85 reconstruction project through Deadwood. State Department of Transportation staff recommended rejection of the bid package as too expensive. It was more than $5.5 million over the DOT engineer's estimate. The project has been in the works at DOT for 28 years. Commissioner Mike Trucano of Deadwood participated in the meeting by telephone. "When the bids came out a couple weeks ago, everyone in Deadwood was disappointed," Trucano said.
PIERRE — There are fewer than 40 days before the Nov. 4 elections, and voting began Sept. 19. Yet South Dakotans still don't have clear answers about what former Gov. Mike Rounds knew or didn't know, and what he approved or didn't approve, regarding the secret EB-5 foreign investment program in his administration. Setting aside those unresolved questions for now, what's clear is that Richard Benda and the EB-5 program's guru, Joop Bollen, operated in a shadow world of state government. Secrecy is one of the characteristics of economic development at the state level in South Dakota.
PIERRE — People guilty of a misdemeanor crime or petty offense that didn't involve violence are now able to clear their record faster and more easily in South Dakota, under a change made by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board began trying the expedited pardons this year and wants to put the process into a formal rule. A public hearing is set for 8 a.m. on Oct.
PIERRE — North Dakota's booming oil and gas fields seem to be helping reduce energy costs nationwide. But they also seem to be hurting highway projects in South Dakota. Our state's Transportation Commission members accepted bids in recent months that were much higher than expected for major reconstruction work in western South Dakota. Two of them -- Mount Rushmore Road through Rapid City and U.S.
The three candidates for governor split on teacher pay, Medicaid expansion and Republican control of state government for 40 years during a tight-paced one-hour forum Thursday night on South Dakota Public Television. Independent Mike Myers stood alone in calling for legalization of industrial and agricultural hemp as 17 other states including North Dakota have done. None of the trio suggested legalization of medical marijuana. Republican Gov.
PIERRE -- Former Gov. Mike Rounds was on the ropes. Then a bunch of national Democrats came pounding into South Dakota this past week. They promised to spend $2 million against him in these last four weeks before the Nov. 4 election. Mike, if you're reading this, remember your manners. Send a thank-you. They probably saved your candidacy — and they probably helped deliver the Republicans' dream of winning every statewide elected office in South Dakota. Rounds is the Republican Party's nominee for the U.S.