PIERRE — A new policy took effect last Monday for the 105 members of the Legislature. They now are allowed to claim travel expenses for trips to meetings of legislative committees, even though they aren't members of the committees. The idea came from Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle. She wrote the request a week ago Friday to Rep. Mark Mickelson and Sen. Brock Greenfield. Mickelson and Greenfield run the Legislature's Executive Board. More importantly, as the House speaker and the Senate president pro tem, they control paying legislators' expenses.
Shantel Krebs is South Dakota's secretary of state and is a candidate for the Republican nomination for South Dakota's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Why she's running: "When President Trump was elected, I was all in," Krebs said. She said South Dakota voters tell her they are frustrated and want "the mess cleaned up" in Washington, D.C. "It's not working," Krebs said. "I want to help him deliver results." She added: "That's what my logo is: Get it done."
Johnson is a past member of South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission and is a candidate for the Republican nomination for South Dakota's one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Why he's running: "This is a job interview, right? It's fun," Johnson said. He recalled growing up in a working-class family of seven from Pierre and Fort Pierre. "Even at a young age I figured out good jobs can make a difference for a family," he said. "The reality is what most people want is the opportunity to earn a living."
Statehouse reporter Bob Mercer spent some time talking with Tim Bjorkman and watching him greet people at the State Fair. The retired state judge from Canistota is the Democratic candidate for South Dakota's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Here are some impressions. Why he's running: Tim Bjorkman talked at length about statistical trends in South Dakota's criminal justice system. Eighty percent of felons in state prisons are serving sentences for nonviolent crimes, he said. That is too many, and too often, for Bjorkman to accept.
HURON — South Dakota Republicans launched a straw poll Friday at the State Fair. It proved an instant hit among many in the State Fair's early crowd. "Voting" continues through 6 p.m. Monday. Dan Lederman said the ballots he brought might not last that long. "It's a great way to reach people and let them know about all of the candidates," he said. Lederman won election last winter as the new chairman for the South Dakota Republican Party. He is a former state legislator from Dakota Dunes.
PIERRE — An email from seven years ago shows Melody Schopp knew about financial improprieties in South Dakota's GEAR UP program for American Indian students before she became state government's secretary of education. LuAnn Werdel wrote the email Jan. 10, 2011. Werdel was state government's director of Indian education. Schopp had fired Werdel earlier that month after receiving the appointment as head of state government's Department of Education. Schopp previously was deputy secretary. Werdel wrote another email Jan. 11, 2011, apologizing for calling out Schopp.
PIERRE — The Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee dug through the latest sets of answers Tuesday regarding alleged wrongdoing at Mid-Central Educational Cooperative in Platte. Legislative auditors said in a pair of May 19 reports they couldn't account for nearly $1.4 million missing from Mid-Central's bank account.
PIERRE — A new board of past judges and justices could look into allegations about South Dakota's GEAR UP program, the state Senate's majority leader said Tuesday. The Legislature established the State Government Accountability Board in the 2017 session. "That's exactly why it exists," said Sen. Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls. "It's just sitting there waiting to be worked." GEAR UP would be the board's first case. The law says the board may review and investigate any person holding a statewide office and employees of state government's executive branch.
PIERRE — Legislative auditors found Mid-Central Educational Cooperative allowed several non-profit organizations to hook payrolls straight to its bank account, state government's auditor general said Monday. Legislative auditors determined $1.4 million was taken from the account but wasn't put back, Marty Guindon told the Legislature's Executive Board. Multiple sources of money flowed into the unrestricted account. Those included a variety of local, state and federal funds. "That's important to know," Guindon said.
PIERRE — South Dakota missed an estimated $50 million of state and local sales and use taxes last year, as businesses outside the state's borders sold more goods and services over the web to state residents, South Dakota's revenue secretary said Monday. Andy Gerlach told the Legislature's Executive Board members the trend would worsen quickly. Sales over the internet would consume $1 of every $5 spent by 2022, he warned.