PIERRE — State senators gave final approval Monday to paying some construction bonds early for the state universities and technical institutes and re-channeling the savings into a tuition subsidy for South Dakota students attending the campuses. Tuition for resident on-campus students would remain the same for the coming academic year as this year. South Dakota's total cost for an undergraduate resident student in fiscal 2016 is $15,282. That ranked third of the seven state region, behind Iowa at $16,602 and Minnesota at $17,824. North Dakota is lowest at $13,285.
PIERRE — Supporters and opponents of the governor's sales-tax increase that won final legislative approval last week found common ground Monday while preparing for a deadline battle today. The state House of Representatives voted 67-0 Monday for the piece of his three-part package that would provide teacher mentoring, offer efficiency incentives and expand the e-learning center at Northern State University.
PIERRE—South Dakota gun enthusiasts seeking to complete firearm purchases more quickly and with less paperwork would be allowed to apply for "gold card" privileges under a provision that received final legislative approval Monday. State senators voted 33-0 for the measure, HB 1190, which now heads to the governor for his final review. The House of Representatives previously passed it 66-1. Several dozen states already use some version of the gold card system.
PIERRE—The 2016 session of the Legislature enters its final week of work Monday. Here's a snapshot of the timetable, followed by summaries of some significant topics that didn't deal with the session's hottest issue, K-12 education funding. *Tuesday is the deadline for the House and the Senate to finish their second considerations of remaining legislation. *Wednesday through Friday are reserved for negotiations in conference committees on bills that have been passed in different versions by the two chambers and haven't found agreement yet.
PIERRE—The state House of Representatives on Monday will consider again whether to approve changes in the process used by counties for deciding livestock feedlot permits. Supporters of the legislation claim it's necessary to stop round after round of appeals on the same application. Opponents argue it's an attempt to limit action against a permit application. So far, the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, is winning on a matter that has split South Dakota agriculture organizations.
PIERRE—Legislation that eventually could help persons with disabilities have money set aside by family and friends in tax-free accounts for future expenses is headed to Gov. Dennis Daugaard's desk. The state Senate gave final approval 35-0 Thursday to a measure that calls for officials to see whether other states would allow South Dakotans to join their ABLE plans. ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. The tax-free savings accounts are similar to college savings plans and health savings accounts allowed under section 529 of the federal IRS tax code.
PIERRE—The Legislature's fight over treatment of transgender students ended Thursday when the state House of Representatives failed to override Gov. Dennis Daugaard's veto. The legislation, HB 1008, would have restricted use of bathrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms in public schools to students of the same biological sex. Students who didn't want to use the facilities for their biological sex could have asked for a separate accommodation in another part of the school.
PIERRE—A state Senate panel rejected the latest attempt by some legislators to override the transgender participation policy for South Dakota high school athletics Thursday. The Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 to kill the legislation sponsored by Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, and Sen. Bill Van Gerpen, R-Tyndall. The House of Representatives approved the legislation 45-23 on Feb. 9. But the Senate committee's action Thursday might have derailed it for this year.
PIERRE—South Dakota's tax structure would change for solar facilities in an attempt to encourage their construction, under a measure that received final approval Thursday from the Legislature. The Senate voted 33-1 for the measure, HB 1177. The House of Representatives had earlier approved it 54-15. Its prime sponsor is Rep. Roger Solum, R-Watertown. The change could be a great economic development tool, said Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown. He is the bill's lead sponsor in the Senate. South Dakota doesn't have any solar production now.
PIERRE—South Dakota farmers would pay higher inspection fees on agricultural fertilizers under a conservation measure approved Thursday by the state Senate. The fee increases would raise an estimated $1 million. The proceeds would be used mainly for research into proper application of fertilizers. The Senate vote was 28-6. "Water quality is imperative for us. It's life. It's the future," Sen. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings, said.