PIERRE—Muskellunge rank as one of the largest and trickiest species of game fish to catch in South Dakota. Now the state Game, Fish & Parks Commission is pondering whether to make anglers who catch muskies to put all of them back in the water. The commissioners rejected a petition Thursday from Taylor Anderson, of Groton. He asked the commission to increase the minimum to 50 inches for keeping muskies and tiger muskies. The rule currently is 40 inches. Anderson argued that length is too small to be a true trophy, at least as muskies go.
PIERRE — Suicides rates set a record high during 2017 for South Dakota, state epidemiologist Josh Clayton told a panel of lawmakers Thursday. Clayton didn't give the number to the House Health and Human Services Committee, however. Final data were still pending. He confirmed the 2017 total exceeded the 161 of 2016 and the record 173 set in 2015. "Suicide rates are increasing in South Dakota," Clayton said.
PIERRE — The Legislature doesn't have a seat on state government's Board of Finance. That means lawmakers don't have a direct say in the rates the board sets for official travel by state government employees. But the Legislature does have authority to make laws, including for the board. Those rates, particularly the amounts paid for lodging, are back on the Legislature's radar. The matter came up Wednesday during a public discussion among House and Senate members of the Joint Committee on Appropriations regarding lawmakers' official travel.
PIERRE — Secretary of State Shantel Krebs encouraged legislators to look hard at her office's spending plans Wednesday. The numbers show a success story for zero-based budgeting, she said. Last winter the Legislature appropriated $3,030,248. "We gave her a tough time," Rep. Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown, said. He's one of the legislators on the appropriations committee that sets state government's budgets. Now she wants $2,985,412 for the coming year that starts July 1. The reduction is about $44,000 while holding staff size still at 15.6 positions.
PIERRE — There is sufficient support from some South Dakota legislators to hold a Thursday meeting of the State-Tribal Relations Committee that could coordinate with the State of the Tribes speech that afternoon. Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, emailed Legislative Research Council Director Jason Hancock saying at least six of the 10 lawmakers on the House-Senate panel favor the meeting.
PIERRE — Tuesday marked the eighth and last State of the State speech that Gov. Dennis Daugaard gave to open the annual session of the Legislature. He covered a lot of ground in a little more than one hour: Workforce development programs such as Career Launch, cyber-security, technology networks and software, Build Dakota scholarships and dual credit courses;
PIERRE — South Dakota Retirement System trustees want all state government employees enrolled in the deferred compensation program on July 1, 2019, at the latest. That's the thrust of SB 37, which lawmakers will consider during the 2018 session of the Legislature that opened Tuesday. Automatic enrollment already was in place for many state government employees. The Legislature established auto-enrollment in 2008 for new hires. The measure as now proposed covers state workers who began before the 2008 law and its accompanying rules took effect that Oct. 22.
PIERRE — Legislation officially in the hopper before the 2018 session continued to climb during the weekend. House committee faced 71 bills as of Sunday evening. Senate panels had 65. The session starts noon Tuesday, with a 1 p.m. State of the State address from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Rift deepens Tribal politics wedged into the 2018 legislative session days before it even opens. It's another spat among lawmakers on the State-Tribal Relations Committee.
PIERRE — The Legislature opens the 2018 regular session at noon Tuesday. There are 38 working days this year. Number 37 comes Friday, March 9. Number 38 is Monday, March 26, after a two-week break. During the past nine months, South Dakota lawmakers seemed at least as busy as previous interims. By mid-Wednesday, House committees already faced 43 proposed laws, while 34 awaited Senate panels. These pre-filed bills are changes state government agencies seek or came from the Legislature's special committees that met during the off-season.
PIERRE — The Associated School Boards of South Dakota can file a brief supporting state government's Water Management Board against a complaint brought by George Ferebee, the South Dakota Open Meetings Commission unanimously decided Friday. Chairman Kevin Krull directed the commission's lawyer to distribute the brief to the five commissioners. Krull is Meade County state's attorney.