PIERRE — People applying for some positions in the Governor's Office of Economic Development would need to pay for criminal background checks under a new requirement approved by Legislature. That change, which awaits a decision from the governor, is one of many under way or being considered within state government, in response to the financial reviews and investigations during the past year involving GOED and the late Richard Benda.
PIERRE -- The Legislature's decision to prohibit texting while driving didn't answer what happens for the eight cities and one county that already have bans in place. Assuming the governor approves the ban, most of South Dakota will have a clear law to follow: • Texting while driving will be illegal under most circumstances; • The fine will be $100; and law enforcement can't write a ticket for texting unless the motorist was stopped for some other reason.
PIERRE -- The Legislature suspended its rules Friday night to give school districts an additional $2.2 million in state aid to spend on teacher salaries in the coming year. Lawmakers still haven't fully refilled the cut from 2011, however. The 3.3 percent increase for the coming year will take state aid per student to $4,781.14. School boards sought $4,804.60 to get back to the pre-cut amount. The $2.2 million came on top of the 3 percent increase that Gov. Dennis Daugaard had recommended.
PIERRE -- Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Thursday signed House Bill 1054, "An Act to establish consumer protection standards regarding certain insurance claim practices and to provide for certain penalties." The legislation is part of a four-bill package, proposed by the Governor, to strengthen insurance consumer protection laws. The earlier bills, which have already been signed into law, were: • House Bill 1050, "An Act to revise certain enforcement actions by the insurance director."
PIERRE -- Republican legislators earmarked some leftover money for a handful of special purposes Wednesday, sparking protests from Democrats who disagreed with the process and wanted more spending on schools and healthcare. The package provides money for four projects: • The Lewis and Clark pipeline would get $1 million to help pay for an extension to Madison.; • Another $500,000 would fund the continuing operations of the Ellsworth Air Force Base authority whose members work to preserve the future of the base east of Rapid City;
PIERRE -- The Legislature is putting more money into the fight against mountain pine beetles in the Black Hills. The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to earmarking $1,950,000. SB 28 now heads to Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The legislation provides the $350,000 sought by the Daugaard administration for work in Custer State Park and $1.6 million that can be spent on private and other lands. "We're pretty happy with it," Sen. Bruce Rampelberg, R-Rapid City, said afterward. The Senate vote was 30-4.
PIERRE -- House Speaker Brian Gosch did a U-turn Wednesday and called for negotiations to resume on banning texting while driving in South Dakota. A few hours later, Sen. Mike Vehle relented and agreed that talks should reopen through a new House-Senate conference committee. The two had been at the center of a deadlock Tuesday night. Unable to reach agreement on what Gosch and Vehle each wanted in the legislation, the committee of Gosch, Vehle and four others gave up. All six have been replaced for the second round of talks.
PIERRE — The Senate agreed with the House of Representatives version of legislation Wednesday that would require the South Dakota High School Activities Association to follow state laws on open meetings and public records. The association's board of directors adopted an open-meeting policy last month but fought against the legislation sponsored by Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg. The Senate originally approved Brown's bill 29-6. The House made amendments in response to points raised by the association's lobbyists and passed the revised bill 62-6.
PIERRE — A governor's veto is difficult to override, as Sen. Bob Ewing learned Wednesday. Ewing tried and lost in his attempt to pass legislation that would have allowed Deadwood to charge another dollar of tax on hotel and motel rooms. The Senate voted 16-19 for the override, falling eight ayes short of the 24 necessary for the two-thirds majority required. The result: SB 98 is dead. Deadwood will remain at the $2 maximum occupancy tax as the rest of South Dakota.
PIERRE — A $7.2 million appropriation to help rehabilitate the stretch of state-owned railroad line from Chamberlain to Lyman, including the bridge over the Missouri River, won final approval legislative approval Wednesday. The House of Representatives voted 65-4 for the package. HB 1041 now goes to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his decision whether to allow it to become law. The legislation combines $1.2 million for the bridge project that the governor wanted and $6 million that Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, sought for the line west of Chamberlain.