PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard intends to appoint the successor within a few weeks for the late Rep. Dan Dryden, the governor's chief of staff said Monday. Tony Venhuizen said "at least 10 or 15 people" have either suggested themselves or have been nominated by others. He said members of the governor's staff this week are contacting every person nominated to gauge interest. Dryden, R-Rapid City, died Aug. 30 after several years of fighting cancer. He was 72.
PIERRE — South Dakota's public university centers in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre need more financial scrutiny by the Legislature, some state lawmakers said Monday. Rep. Scott Munsterman, R-Brookings, and Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, said they want to know whether the centers are financially self-supporting. The two lawmakers are chairman and vice chairman of the Special Legislative Task Force created by a 2006 state law to oversee the university centers.
PIERRE — Since 2006 there have been 27 shootings of criminal suspects by state, city or county law enforcement officers in South Dakota, with 10 in the past 20 months. If you go back to 2001, the total rises to 35. State investigators determined after each one that deadly force was justified. Eighteen officer-involved shootings occurred in Rapid City and Pennington County. Six happened in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County. The rest took place throughout South Dakota.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Lottery Commission green-lighted a smaller and cheaper study of security at video gambling businesses Thursday. The move is a response to robberies and burglaries at some establishments. Gaming Laboratories International will conduct the study of 25 businesses in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and North Sioux City. The contract is for $25,000 for the work plus $8,000 for travel. GLI's original proposal was $80,000 including travel for analysis at 50 businesses throughout South Dakota and the lottery's offices in Pierre and Sioux Falls.
PIERRE — The state Board of Minerals and Environment decided Thursday to hold a hearing to determine whether an oil well-hole left unplugged near Wasta poses an environmental danger to drinking-water wells in the area. A lawyer for the company behind the Quartz Northern Points well recently notified the board that the company is insolvent, lacks the money to plug the hole and is willing to surrender the $130,000 bond it posted for the project.
PIERRE — South Dakota doesn't prohibit candidates for state elected offices from spending campaign money for personal purposes and they can keep the money remaining after they leave office. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs wants a campaign-finance review panel to consider changing state laws so those practices would become banned. Federal election regulations for example don't allow spending campaign funds for the candidate's personal use or for the use of the candidate's relatives.
PIERRE — Without further controversy, the state Public Utilities Commission accepted the request by the Prevailing Winds project to withdraw its application to build up to 100 wind turbines in the area north of Avon on Tuesday. "I believe everything is right there in the motion," Lee Magnuson, a Sioux Falls lawyer representing the company, told the commissioners by telephone. Amanda Reiss, a lawyer for the commission, said the staff didn't object. The voluntary withdrawal allows Prevailing Winds to apply at another time.
PIERRE — One of the arguments used back on March 29 to sustain the governor's veto of the buffer strips tax break for farmers and ranchers during the 2016 legislative session was its unknown cost. Now five-plus months later, Gov. Dennis Daugaard is throwing the full weight of his administration — four different departments and one of his top aides—behind his own buffer strips plan. And, surprisingly, the estimated cost still remains unknown.
PIERRE — South Dakota's new school-funding system doesn't provide enough money to small-enrollment school systems, state legislators elected from rural areas said Monday. They said schools aren't receiving enough funding to cover one teacher per grade. The comments came from two Democrats and two Republicans during a presentation on the new formula by Tami Darnall, finance director for the state Department of Education. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved Gov. Dennis Daugaard's request to raise the state sales tax to 4.5 percent from 4 percent.
PIERRE — The buffer strips proposal coming from Gov. Dennis Daugaard began with Sen. Jim Peterson of Revillo in the 2016 legislative session. The Republican governor vetoed the bill the Democratic lawmaker had passed. Now with a variety of technical and legal revisions the governor too wants to reward helping our environment. It offers a property tax reduction for landowners who plant strips of grass 50 to 120 feet wide between private farm ground and public water bodies. The grass strip reduces soil erosion and slows run-off that contains agricultural pollution.