PIERRE — "Is that true?" That's the question I'm getting this election season from people. They're asking about campaign ads that allege political corruption in state government, specifically the Legislature. We know, unfortunately, there has been corruption reaching up to the Cabinet level. The EB-5 immigrant investor scandal occurred in the previous administration of Gov. Mike Rounds. It came to light during the current administration of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
STURGIS — The two candidates for one seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission met Saturday for their only joint forum before the Nov. 8 statewide election. Democrat Henry Red Cloud, of Pine Ridge, and Republican incumbent Chris Nelson answered questions for nearly one hour from an audience of more than 50 Republicans and Democrats. The answers focused mostly on renewable energy. Red Cloud runs a residential solar-energy business and he said consumers could save a lot with renewable energy for their homes.
PIERRE — The two interstates that cross South Dakota, and possibly some of the other major highways throughout the state's roads system, are about to be changed into corridors that will accommodate remote-controlled vehicles alongside traditional traffic. Technology companies are preparing to install thousands of antennas, as small as a toasters or pizza ovens, along the rights of way in South Dakota and throughout the nation. The first might be in place within the next two or three years.
PIERRE — The state Department of Transportation maintenance plan for South Dakota's highways during the coming winter relies more on science and communications and features a new tow-behind plow to clear a wider path. The plan, which budgets approximately $800,000 less than the $18.4 million the DOT spent last winter, received approval Thursday from the state Transportation Commission. Jason Humphrey, a DOT official in charge of assembling the plan, said $1 million is equal to about two storms.
PIERRE — Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, whose office oversees the Nov. 8 general elections across South Dakota, doesn't see how hackers could disrupt voting. "We've been trying to just reassure voters," Krebs said in an interview. Her comments came in response to what have become daily charges by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump the national election is rigged. That's not the case in South Dakota, according to Krebs, who is a Republican. "There's no way on the front end," she said. Her reasons:
PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard's administration will permanently close two interstate highway rest areas Monday. One area is in Tilford on Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Sturgis, and the other is in Hidewood on Interstate 29 between Brookings and Watertown. State Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist told the South Dakota Transportation Commission about the decision Thursday morning. Bergquist said the changes are part of a statewide revitalization plan for interstate rest areas.
PIERRE — Nursing homes in South Dakota would be able to buy and sell bed space within their healthcare sector under a recommendation made by a panel of state legislators Thursday. That proposal now needs to clear the Legislature's Executive Board. If the board agrees, the idea could be offered to the full Legislature for consideration in the 2017 session that opens in January.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has been asked to resolve another pricing dispute between a wind-power company and an investor-owned utility. Juhl Energy Inc. is using a 1978 federal law to force NorthWestern Energy to purchase electricity from Juhl Energy's wind farms. The projects are near Kimball, White Lake and Letcher, and all are within NorthWestern Energy's service territory. The commission gave its staff authority Wednesday to pay up to $38,000 to an outside consultant to help on the pricing analysis.
PIERRE — Only the deadline stopped the Republican surge in voter registration this year in South Dakota. Absolute numbers won't be available until later this week, because some requests might be in the mail that were postmarked by the 5 p.m. Monday cut-off and possibly were still on the way to county courthouses. But the statewide totals posted as of 5 p.m. CT Tuesday by the Secretary of State office showed Republicans in the most dominant position of most current South Dakotans' lifetimes.
PIERRE — The governor's council of economic advisers received bleak news Tuesday. Three months into state government's 2017 fiscal year, South Dakota's economy isn't close to generating enough tax revenues to cover the 2017 budget set by the Legislature. Taxable sales for July through September ran 1.8 percent behind the similar quarter one year ago. Making the arithmetic more complicated was the decision by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and majorities in both chambers of the Legislature to increase the state sales tax rate to 4.5 percent from 4 percent.