PIERRE — Mental health and safety should be the topic for an interim study, the Legislature's Executive Board decided Monday. Assisting county governments could be one focus, Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, said. "The Legislature could be part of the solution to this problem," Haugaard said. "I think we could take this on and do some good." The board also chose spending on special education through the extraordinary costs fund. "The numbers are climbing so fast. It needs to be looked at," Rep. Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown, said.
PIERRE — Newspapers need to try to figure out the answer to a South Dakota mystery. Why has voter registration shifted so heavily to the independent / no-party category? There's a related question. Why did Democrats lose voters while Republicans gained? One theory is many registrations now occur at driver-licensing stations. Think about it. At age 18, in South Dakota, you get your full license. You'll also get the chance to register to vote. When you have just turned 18, do you know your politics?
PIERRE — An official explanation of changes proposed on the June 5 ballot regarding rights of crime victims is drawing attention to a complicated point. The South Dakota Legislature decided voters should choose whether to make adjustments so law enforcement agencies could possibly function more smoothly and at lower costs. For example, each of 19 rights would be "upon request" rather than granted automatically. The definition of a victim would be narrower too.
PIERRE — As of Thursday evening, Gov. Dennis Daugaard hadn't issued a veto against any legislation passed this year. State lawmakers likely won't know until sometime Friday whether he has used his power to try to stop any of the 27 bills remaining on his desk from becoming state law. Either way, lawmakers scheduled a substantial variety of activities for Monday when they gather for the final time of the 2018 regular session.
PIERRE — Turns out neither side's memories were dead-on when the Legislature recently added a special statewide election to South Dakota party primaries already set for June 5. Lawmakers agreed voters should decide whether to change South Dakota Constitution's provisions on victim's rights. But where they disagreed was the choice between a crowded November ballot and a lighter June turnout. A check of election records has since found statewide votes occurred at times other than a general election.
PIERRE — Shutting down old-style video lottery terminals such as the VLC 8700 likely won't happen this decade, a South Dakota Lottery official acknowledged Wednesday. Clark Hepper told state lottery commissioners he's met so far with seven of the 15 operators who own about two-thirds of what he described as "legacy" terminals. "There's been talk of a five to 10 years range," Hepper said. He is the lottery deputy executive director.
PIERRE — With eight months in the ledger, South Dakota Lottery officials expect their products will generate about $6 million more in revenue this year than in fiscal 2017. That's based on a forecast presented Wednesday to the state Lottery Commission. Sales Director Tom Helland said all three types of gaming had received more play through Feb. 28. State government would net an estimated $123.4 million of revenue for fiscal 2018 from lottery offerings, Helland said. The fiscal year ends June 30.
PIERRE — The state Public Utilities Commission agreed Tuesday to look at effects within five miles of the proposed Lookout Solar Park site and to appoint a local review panel. The project might be the first solar-to-electricity facility in South Dakota. It would be built at the western border of Oglala Lakota County. The transmission cables would run west and connect to an existing electricity line in Custer County.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Board of Education Standards decided Monday to set a rules hearing on putting in place the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Congress approved Every Student Succeeds in 2015 under President Barack Obama. It replaced the federal No Child Left Behind system Congress passed in 2001 under President George W. Bush. State Department of Education officials have described ESSA as offering more flexibility in measuring schools and students.
PIERRE — A South Dakota rule passed a decade ago requires the state Department of Education to review a school system's accreditation on a five-year cycle. But on Monday a department official asked for more time. Abby Javurek is director for the division of accountability systems. She told the state Board of Education Standards that without a change the two reviewers would have to complete 71 this school year and another 95 next school year.