PIERRE — State lawmakers blocked attempts Thursday to cut the guts from South Dakota's law that makes local governments and school boards publish minutes from their meetings in local newspapers. Twice the House Local Government Committee voted 11-1, first against HB 1141, then against HB 1142, in another battle of a long war over South Dakota publication laws. The latest incident flamed up in November, when the corporate owner of weekly newspapers at Belle Fourche and Sturgis locked their doors with one week of notice.
PIERRE — The state House of Representatives voted unanimously Thursday to place a bust of George Speaker Mickelson in the House lobby of the South Dakota Capitol. Then the 67 representatives rose and applauded Rep. George Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls. Mark, the oldest of three children of the late governor and wife Linda, is the third generation of the Mickelson family to be the House speaker. The resolution now moves to the Senate for agreement.
PIERRE — Jim Thares of Aberdeen and Joan Wink of Howes sailed through confirmation hearings Thursday by the state Senate Education Committee. The panel vote was 6-0 on each. Their nominations to the state Board of Regents now move to the Senate consent calendar for consideration Friday (tomorrow). The regents govern South Dakota's public universities and special schools. The consent designation means senators are limited to questions.
PIERRE — State government owns hundreds of thousands of acres of rural land across South Dakota, especially in the northwest, that are leased to ranchers and farmers. But many of the fences, watering systems and other improvements that are on the state acreages were put in place by many of those private renters. When leases change hands, one particular question sometimes comes up: How much should the new tenant pay the previous tenant for those privately made improvements? South Dakota right now doesn't have an exact process in state law.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Senate said yes two times Wednesday in limiting how long a future member could serve on the state Board of Regents and the state Board of Education Standards. The regents govern South Dakota's public universities and special schools. SB 80 would limit a new appointee to two consecutive six-year terms. The Senate voted 32-3 in favor. The education-standards members set many of the rules for South Dakota's public schools. SB 89 would limit a new appointee to three consecutive four-year terms. The Senate voted 34-0 in favor.
PIERRE — Motor vehicles that run on electricity could face new fees for using streets and roads in South Dakota. A vehicle fueled only by electricity would be charged $100 per year while a hybrid that uses a mix of electricity and some other fuel would face a $50 annual fee. Rep. Mary Duvall, R-Pierre, is prime sponsor. HB 1142 was assigned to the House Transportation Committee. She is its chairwoman. A hearing date hasn't been publicly scheduled.
PIERRE — The state House of Representatives decided Wednesday school districts in South Dakota shouldn't face property taxes for housing where certified teachers live. House members voted 47-19 in favor. HB 1143 heads now to the Senate. Tax-free housing for teachers was standard practice until a case last year in the Highmore-Harrold district, according to Rep. Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade. Lesmeister said adding four words "by a certified teacher" would clarify the tax-free status.
PIERRE — South Dakota's two largest public universities received praise from some state lawmakers during budget reviews Wednesday. Members of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations generally expressed respect for the overall performance and the results at both South Dakota State University in Brookings and The University of South Dakota at Vermillion. Legislators and audience members, including many of the regents who govern South Dakota's system of public universities, gave a standing ovation to Jim Abbott.
PIERRE — The state House of Representatives agreed Tuesday speed limits could be temporarily reduced on South Dakota's interstate highways during rough weather or other difficult conditions. The vote was 52-16 to give authority to the state Department of Transportation and the state Department of Public Safety after consulting with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. HB 1008 now goes to the Senate. "Wyoming has been successful with this in the past," Rep. Roger Chase, R-Huron, told House members.
PIERRE — There are lawmakers from both major parties who signed their names as co-sponsors for legislation that would create a state council on early learning. Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton of Burke proposed its establishment. South Dakota is one of the few states without some form of state-backed pre-K program. The Senate Education Committee hadn't publicly scheduled a hearing on SB 132 as of Tuesday morning. Chairman is Sen. Jim Bolin, R-Canton.