PIERRE — Some state legislators questioned the growth and size of South Dakota's unemployment trust fund Tuesday. State Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman defended the amount in testimony to the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. She said the amount in reserve is based on the lowest of three multipliers commonly used across the nation to measure solvency. The state advisory council recommended South Dakota use a multiplier of 1.6 times the high cost average.
PIERRE — Dave Mickelson is about to join the South Dakota Lottery Commission. He is the youngest son of the late Gov. George S. Mickelson, who won office in the same 1986 election when South Dakota voters approved the constitutional amendment allowing a state lottery. Dave Mickelson lives in Sioux Falls where for the past five years he's run Graham Tire Auto Parts. The company has 18 locations in South Dakota and Nebraska. He previously worked in banking for more than 15 years.
PIERRE — Federal election laws provide protections so that people who aren't white have a fair chance to be treated squarely when they cast their votes. But if the people who get the special considerations don't vote, it might not matter. That is what happened in District 27, which covers the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The district had 3,475 Republicans, 7,571 Democrats and 2,566 independents and others registered for the Nov. 8 general election.
PIERRE — Two members have quit the state Transportation Commission after South Dakota voters last week passed Initiated Measure 22, known as the Anti-Corruption Act. The two are Tim Dougherty, a lawyer from Sioux Falls, and Kathy Zander, of Pierre, who manages two agri-business organizations. State Transportation Commission Darin Bergquist announced their resignations at the start of the commission's meeting Friday. Dougherty and Zander work as lobbyists for their clients before the Legislature.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Transportation Commission awarded grants totaling nearly $3.5 million to 17 cities and counties under 5,000 population Friday to help local economic development. The commission was able to provide many more of the community access grants after moving money from two other grant categories. This year there wasn't much demand for highway assistance at agribusiness projects, and there weren't any applications for industrial park grants, according to Laurie Schultz. She oversees the programs in the state Department of Transportation.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Transportation Commission approved on Friday two more rounds of bids on state highway projects that were much lower than expected. The engineer estimates for the six projects totaled about $29 million. The low bids came in about $2.5 million less. "It certainly seems like competition was good at this point on all the bids," Commissioner Ron Rosenboom, of Sturgis, said. Commissioner Rod Fouberg, of Aberdeen, asked about a running total on bids for the year. "It would be interesting to see the whole picture, totally," he said.
PIERRE — Raising the state sales tax appears to have partially solved the problem of low pay for teachers in South Dakota. Gov. Dennis Daugaard's administration released preliminary data Thursday showing the average salary for a teacher in a public school rose to $46,924. This is an increase of 11.9 percent above the $41,940 average last year, but still short of the governor's goal of $48,500. The Legislature last winter agreed with the governor's proposal to increase the sales tax to 4.5 percent from 4 percent.
PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard plans to appoint a new commissioner of finance and management at some point after his budget speech next month to the Legislature, his chief of staff said Thursday. Tony Venhuizen said the former commissioner, Jason Dilges, was placed on indefinite administrative leave "pending a final decision on his status." The change took place last week after an internal review. Staff members in the Bureau of Finance and Management were told that Dilges wouldn't be returning.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Railroad Board agreed to terms Wednesday with Dakota Southern Railway on a 10-year lease to restore regular service on a segment of the state-owned line between Napa and Platte. The contract will cover the track between Napa and Ravinia, which is the first stop west of Wagner. The immediate emphasis is delivering service to Tabor so grain can be shipped. Dakota Southern chief Mike Williams promised the board he would start replacing ties next week.
SIOUX FALLS — The South Dakota Board of Education approved another degree offering for technical institutes Tuesday. It will be a two-year degree for those students with sufficient general education credits, but without the needed credits within one discipline. It is called an associate of applied science degree in technical studies. The institute where the student earned at least 25 percent of the necessary credits would issue the degree.