PIERRE — State Circuit Judge Mark Barnett plans to hear arguments Thursday, Dec. 8, on whether South Dakota's new anti-corruption law should remain in effect. A group of 24 Republican legislators, three of their spouses and one lobbying organization want the judge to issue an injunction permanently blocking the law. The 1 p.m. hearing comes one month after a majority of South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 22 in the Nov. 8 statewide elections. Most of the law took effect Nov. 16.
PIERRE — Come Tuesday afternoon, the people of South Dakota will learn from their governor how dire the financial situation is facing their state government. The budget recommendations that Gov. Dennis Daugaard delivers to a joint assembly of the Legislature on Dec. 6 marks the second time he must take a difficult message to state lawmakers. This isn't the same level of crisis he faced in January 2011, when he took office as South Dakota and the nation struggling back from the Great Recession.
PIERRE — State Attorney General Marty Jackley used a private business to print 100,000 copies of the Marsy's Law victim rights card, after learning the state printing office couldn't meet his timetable. South Dakota voters approved the constitutional amendment Nov. 8. Section 19 of the amendment calls for victim rights information to be distributed on what's called a Marsy's Card to each crime victim. The card as printed covers both sides of a standard-sized piece of paper. It cost 32 cents apiece to print, according to Sara Rabern, the attorney general's spokeswoman.
PIERRE — The boom in South Dakota's agricultural economy ended in 2014. Tough times became the story last year and now this year too. According to data from the state Bureau of Finance and Management, farm and ranch income plummeted from $3.8 billion in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2014. Then it kept falling to $1.1 billion in 2015. The 2016 estimate is lower yet at $900 million. Mike Held from the South Dakota Farm Bureau said farm income is the biggest reason why state and city governments lately have received less sales tax revenue than expected.
PIERRE — South Dakota's state veterinarian said Tuesday he doesn't know whether the governor will recommend funding next week for the new animal disease laboratory. Dustin Oedekoven told state Animal Industry Board members that sources of money aren't clear because state tax revenue hasn't met expectations for the past four months. Gov. Dennis Daugaard is scheduled to deliver his budget recommendations to the Legislature on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Those recommendations would be for next fiscal year that starts July 1, 2017.
PIERRE — South Dakota farmers produced winter wheat during the past growing season like never before, but much of it remains in bins because of weak price. With so much wheat still on hand, more land in South Dakota probably will be planted to stronger-priced soybeans for the coming season. That summarizes key points of the discussion Monday among members of the South Dakota Wheat Commission at their meeting.
PIERRE — Twelve legislators and one organization claim they would face illegal conflicts and therefore filed the lawsuit seeking to block parts or all of Initiated Measure 22, known as the Anti-Corruption Act, from taking effect. South Dakota voters approved IM 22 on Nov. 8, and most of its provisions took effect as law on Nov. 16. One provision sets a $100 limit on gifts to legislators. The definition includes employment and covers family members.
PIERRE — A long-time employee of the state Legislative Research Council did an important service for the public with a new report on property taxes in South Dakota. Fred Baatz, a principal research analyst, tells us where we are and the roads we took during the past 40 years to get here. He accomplishes this in eight pages of explanation and four pages of charts and footnotes. This is must reading if you own real-estate property in South Dakota.
PIERRE — There will be 20 women among the 105 members of the South Dakota Legislature when the 2017 session opens in January. That is a decrease of two from the current total and a decline of four from the peak of 24 women who served in the 2013-2014 term. The 20 still will be more than during the previous decade, when the number of women varied from 15 in the 1999-2000 term to 18 in the 2007-2008 term. There were at least 21 women in the four terms since then. A combination of circumstances led to the latest drop.
PIERRE — Something mysterious is holding back South Dakota's retail economy. People are working like never before, but they don't seem to be spending in the amounts expected, at least not with South Dakota businesses. Consider these two sets of statistics: South Dakota had one of its highest months ever during October with employment of 445,329. Unemployment at 2.4 percent was one of the lowest rates in a long time. Employment conditions have looked strong throughout the past year.