PIERRE — South Dakota's court system received hundreds of thousands of dollars owed by criminal offenders after the state's new debt office opened last summer. Greg Sattizahn, administrator for the South Dakota Unified Judicial System, reported on the progress during a meeting Monday with a state oversight council on prison reforms. He said offenders couldn't be kept on probation solely to pressure them to continue paying restitution, fees and fines.
PIERRE — One of the bright spots Tuesday night was the realization that South Dakota Democrats have Dan Ahlers returning to our state's capitol. One of the low spots was the realization that South Dakota Republicans would be losing Roger Hunt at our state's capitol. Ahlers, D-Dell Rapids, was a legislator for four years in the previous decade. He served in the House of Representatives for the 2007-2008 term and in the Senate for the 2009-2010 term. He turns 43 Nov. 14.
PIERRE —The seating charts need to be changed in both chambers of the South Dakota Legislature after Tuesday's elections. Republicans gained two seats in the Senate and two seats in the House of Representatives. Those victories increase the Republicans-Democrats ratios to 29-6 in the Senate and 60-10 in the House. Winning one of the Senate seats was Rep. John Wiik, R-Big Stone City. He defeated former legislator Kathy Tyler, D-Big Stone City, for the District 4 slot that was held by the retiring Sen. Jim Peterson, D-Revillo.
PIERRE — The corruptions that have stained state government in the past decade evidently became too much for a majority of South Dakota voters in Tuesday's general elections. Initiated Measure 22 won by more than 11,300 votes statewide, even though it failed in 42 of South Dakota's 66 counties. Its stated purpose on page 1 is "to increase accountability to the people of South Dakota in electoral politics and to combat government corruption and its appearance."
PIERRE — Chris Nelson, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, went to work Election Day just like any other morning Tuesday and conducted a standard commission meeting. By 10 p.m. he stood as a possible record holder on his way to re-election. Partial results showed Nelson, a Republican, receiving 77.7 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Henry Red Cloud of Pine Ridge with 409 of 707 precincts reported.
PIERRE — In the wake of two major corruption cases, the new board assigned to create a system of internal financial controls for state government and its contractors, vendors and grant recipients decided Monday to seek an outside consultant. The draft request is still in development. It would call for proposals from consultants to work with one state agency, the Bureau of Finance and Management, as the first case. The information learned during the development of controls for BFM could be applied later to other state departments and offices.
PIERRE — South Dakota Democrats didn't get into their horribly deep hole overnight. It took 40 years of ups and downs to finally bomb this bad. But after seeing 30,000 of their registered voters disappear in the past eight years in South Dakota, while Republicans and independents surged to record heights for this Nov. 8 election, the question must be asked. What happened? First, let's look at what didn't happen. The popular, but erroneous, claim is Republicans used legislative redistricting every 10 years to punish Democrats.
PIERRE — South Dakota's new panel that is responsible for ensuring that school districts increase teacher salaries with the additional state aid they're receiving will hold a meeting next month about how the new process is to work. Members of the School Finance Accountability Board met by videoconference Friday. They discussed the draft version of the rules and several forms that schools will use when submitting information to the board. The Dec. 8 meeting will be a first reading of the proposed rules.
PIERRE—Trustees for the South Dakota Retirement System voted unanimously Thursday to reduce the annual cost of living allowance (COLA) to as little as 0.5 percent for retirees. The new approach calls for a range of 0.5 percent to as much as 3.5 percent, depending upon inflation and the retirement system's financial strength. The COLA measure that's been in place since 2010 provides a minimum 2.1 percent each year and a maximum 3.1 percent. The present approach is costing SDRS more than it can afford, according to actuaries. The larger raises snowball.
PIERRE — South Dakota's general election next week marks a turning point in the state's history. The term "inpa" becomes a must-know expression in our political language. Inpa is short for Independent/No Party Affiliation. South Dakota heads into the Nov. 8 election with record numbers of inpa and Republican registered voters. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said Tuesday there are 544,402 voters registered. They include 252,102 Republicans; 170,711 Democrats; 118,639 inpas; 1,619 Libertarians; 500 Constitution; and 831 others.