PIERRE — Chris Nelson, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, went to work Election Day just like any other morning Tuesday and conducted a standard commission meeting. By 10 p.m. he stood as a possible record holder on his way to re-election. Partial results showed Nelson, a Republican, receiving 77.7 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Henry Red Cloud of Pine Ridge with 409 of 707 precincts reported.
PIERRE — In the wake of two major corruption cases, the new board assigned to create a system of internal financial controls for state government and its contractors, vendors and grant recipients decided Monday to seek an outside consultant. The draft request is still in development. It would call for proposals from consultants to work with one state agency, the Bureau of Finance and Management, as the first case. The information learned during the development of controls for BFM could be applied later to other state departments and offices.
PIERRE — South Dakota Democrats didn't get into their horribly deep hole overnight. It took 40 years of ups and downs to finally bomb this bad. But after seeing 30,000 of their registered voters disappear in the past eight years in South Dakota, while Republicans and independents surged to record heights for this Nov. 8 election, the question must be asked. What happened? First, let's look at what didn't happen. The popular, but erroneous, claim is Republicans used legislative redistricting every 10 years to punish Democrats.
PIERRE — South Dakota's new panel that is responsible for ensuring that school districts increase teacher salaries with the additional state aid they're receiving will hold a meeting next month about how the new process is to work. Members of the School Finance Accountability Board met by videoconference Friday. They discussed the draft version of the rules and several forms that schools will use when submitting information to the board. The Dec. 8 meeting will be a first reading of the proposed rules.
PIERRE—Trustees for the South Dakota Retirement System voted unanimously Thursday to reduce the annual cost of living allowance (COLA) to as little as 0.5 percent for retirees. The new approach calls for a range of 0.5 percent to as much as 3.5 percent, depending upon inflation and the retirement system's financial strength. The COLA measure that's been in place since 2010 provides a minimum 2.1 percent each year and a maximum 3.1 percent. The present approach is costing SDRS more than it can afford, according to actuaries. The larger raises snowball.
PIERRE — South Dakota's general election next week marks a turning point in the state's history. The term "inpa" becomes a must-know expression in our political language. Inpa is short for Independent/No Party Affiliation. South Dakota heads into the Nov. 8 election with record numbers of inpa and Republican registered voters. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said Tuesday there are 544,402 voters registered. They include 252,102 Republicans; 170,711 Democrats; 118,639 inpas; 1,619 Libertarians; 500 Constitution; and 831 others.
PIERRE — The three members of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission operate mostly in obscurity. That is, until someone wants to construct an oil pipeline or build a large wind farm or an investor-owned utility company wants to raise prices on customers.
PIERRE — "Is that true?" That's the question I'm getting this election season from people. They're asking about campaign ads that allege political corruption in state government, specifically the Legislature. We know, unfortunately, there has been corruption reaching up to the Cabinet level. The EB-5 immigrant investor scandal occurred in the previous administration of Gov. Mike Rounds. It came to light during the current administration of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
STURGIS — The two candidates for one seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission met Saturday for their only joint forum before the Nov. 8 statewide election. Democrat Henry Red Cloud, of Pine Ridge, and Republican incumbent Chris Nelson answered questions for nearly one hour from an audience of more than 50 Republicans and Democrats. The answers focused mostly on renewable energy. Red Cloud runs a residential solar-energy business and he said consumers could save a lot with renewable energy for their homes.
PIERRE — The two interstates that cross South Dakota, and possibly some of the other major highways throughout the state's roads system, are about to be changed into corridors that will accommodate remote-controlled vehicles alongside traditional traffic. Technology companies are preparing to install thousands of antennas, as small as a toasters or pizza ovens, along the rights of way in South Dakota and throughout the nation. The first might be in place within the next two or three years.