RAPID CITY—Students attending South Dakota's four public technical institutes this fall will pay $5 more per credit hour, despite the tuition freeze approved by the Legislature. The overall price per credit hour will be $150. The state Board of Education approved the rate Monday. Tuition will remain at $109 per credit hour because of the freeze. The maintenance and repair fee will stay at $5 per credit hour. The technology fee will remain $1 per credit hour. The $5 increase comes in the facility fee, which is rising to $35 per credit hour.
RAPID CITY-- Emergency safety rules for public schools to physically deal with difficult students in South Dakota didn't proceed as planned Monday. The state Department of Education withdrew the proposed rules, rather than hold the public hearing scheduled for them. Bobbi Rank, the department's lawyer, said school officials wanted more time to review and comment about the safety rules. She said the Legislative Research Council also sent a letter about the department's authority to set the rules.
PIERRE — Some of our legislators can be really crafty at times. They spent much of the 2016 session struggling over transgender bathroom policy in our public schools. Meanwhile they passed another piece of legislation that could make the issue go poof! It would provide money, so transgender students or any students could have non-public schools. Seriously. Soon we could have Republican or Democratic or socialist non-public schools. We could have non-public schools where only Lakota is spoken.
PIERRE — The 2016 session of the Legislature ended its main run Friday. Here's a look at some of the courageous events that occurred and the people at the center of them: Rep. Jacqueline Sly, R-Rapid City, and Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls "Be bold," urged the co-chairs of the governor's Blue Ribbon task force on teachers and students. Sly and Soholt spearheaded the drive to improve teacher pay in South Dakota.
PIERRE—The state Public Utilities Commission meeting Tuesday features some major decisions about construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline through South Dakota. The commission will decide whether to accept the company's choice of Eric Munz as its public liaison officer and the company's choice of Ryan Coleman as its third-party compliance monitor. Munz worked on easements and access issues for TransCanada's Keystone and Keystone XL pipelines. Coleman works for a Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based consulting group.
PIERRE—State legislators adopted the statewide property-tax levies for general education Thursday for the 2017 tax year, but at least a few lawmakers didn't seem to understand the math. The agricultural levy remains the same at $1.568 (one dollar and 56.8 cents) per $1,000 of taxable land value. Yet, that actually is a decrease. Here's why—and this is the spot where some House members became high-centered Thursday. As part of the broader school-finance changes approved this year, the pension levy for schools will be rolled into the general-education levies.
PIERRE—The Senate and the House of Representatives adopted four pages of changes to the current 2016 budget for state government Thursday without a struggle. Meanwhile, the 18 members of the Joint Committee on Appropriations finished preparation of the 2017 budget bill they've worked on since mid-January. If all stays on schedule, the Senate and the House could have the budget bill adopted by noon today. The budget, traditionally, is the final act taken during the main run of the legislative session.
PIERRE — Unless the governor disagrees, the Legislature rather than a state board shall have the final word on offensive or insulting place names in South Dakota. The House of Representatives voted 67-0 Wednesday to restrict the power of the state Board on Geographic Names. Under HB 1060, the board could act only on a name change for a geographic place name that has been identified by state law as being offensive or insulting. The board could hold hearings to consider recommending names for the Legislature to consider as offensive or insulting.
PIERRE — Most abortions performed in week 20 or later after fertilization would become a crime in South Dakota under a major change by the Legislature. State senators gave final approval Wednesday 26-7 to the legislation. SB 72 now goes to the governor for his review. Sen. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre, was prime sponsor. His lead sponsor in the House was Rep. Isaac Latterell, R-Tea. Their measure finds that unborn children can feel pain in week 20 of a pregnancy and makes an abortion unlawful at that point except for a medical emergency.
PIERRE—State senators voted 25-10 Wednesday for the third and final piece of Gov. Dennis Daugaard's plan to increase teacher pay and reform school finances in South Dakota. The legislation restructures the funding formula for school districts to base spending per teacher rather than per student, sets caps on school reserves, creates boundaries for capital outlay taxes and counts six categories of other revenue as part of a school district's local effort.