PIERRE -- Dakota Rural Action won a foothold Tuesday in a major utility company's request to charge higher prices for electricity to its western South Dakota customers. Black Hills Power, however, was able to convince the state Public Utilities Commission that Dakota Rural Action should be limited to participating as a commenter, rather than receive full status as an intervener. Black Hills Power applied for a 9.27 percent increase that would generate an estimated $14.6 million more annually in electricity revenue for the Rapid City-based utility. The company said the average residential cu
PIERRE -- While the federal funding level remains uncertain, the state Department of Transportation is pushing forward with its public meetings this summer about South Dakota's next highway plan. In a switch, one meeting will be converted to a statewide Internet session. Department officials announced the change Thursday to the state Transportation Commission. "We're hoping we can get more participation on this," Joel Jundt said. He is the department's director of planning and engineering. The schedule in recent years has been five community meetings.
PIERRE -- The 2014 budget year that ends June 30 hasn't been kind to the South Dakota Lottery. Officials said Thursday revenue was down; the estimated total through June 14 from the three sets of games was nearly $105.7 million. At the similar point one year ago it was $107.5 million. State government's 50 percent take from privately owned video lottery machines was almost $91.6 million.
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.