DEADWOOD -- A South Dakota judge has rejected an attempt by three casinos to escape paying state gambling taxes on free promotional plays they give to customers. Circuit Judge Mark Barnett decided in favor of the state Commission on Gaming in the lawsuit brought by Deadwood establishments First Gold, Mineral Palace and Four Aces Gaming. A commission rule specifically prohibits deducting promotional play.
The four announced candidates seeking to be South Dakota's next governor show a big spread in the money they've raised, and spent, for their campaigns, according to their state-required finance reports. The incumbent, Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, appeared to have little difficulty rounding up money last year in preparation for his 2014 run for re-election. He finished 2013 with $1,721,332 cash on hand in his campaign account, according to his campaign finance statement filed with the South Dakota secretary of state.
MILLER — The abrupt departure of Michael Ruth as superintendent for the Miller School District earlier this month came just weeks after a former student brought a paternity lawsuit against him in Hand County court. Circuit Judge Jon Erickson has ordered Ruth to submit to paternity testing, according to a court notice filed Monday. Jacqueline Maria St. John said in a sworn statement that she met Ruth, a Mitchell native, when he was superintendent at Miller High School.
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.