PIERRE—The Legislature's leaders set the final scope and chose chairs and vice chairs Monday for interim studies that could provide recommendations for the 2017 session. Sen. Jim White, R-Huron, will be chairman for the interim committee on combating drug abuse among young South Dakotans. The vice chairman will be Rep. Mike Stevens, R-Yankton. Rep. Steve Westra, R-Sioux Falls, will be chairman for the interim committee looking at the statewide limit on bed space at nursing homes and assisted living centers. The vice chairwoman will be Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls.
PIERRE — After last week's column suggested changing political party registration so your vote can be cast in primary elections, a reader asked, What's wrong with Republicans? Absolutely nothing. The purpose was to suggest that, depending where you live, the results of South Dakota's June 7 primary elections might be very important, especially in many of the legislative contests this year. The registration deadline is May 23.
PIERRE— The South Dakota Lottery is preparing to offer a new product that is a hybrid between jackpot lotto games and instant-win scratch tickets. The game, known as EZ Match, would be an added option for the Dakota Cash lotto game that's been offered since 1993. Players who purchase Dakota Cash lotto tickets could choose EZ Match for another dollar. The EZ Match winners and losers would be determined instantly, apart from the Dakota Cash drawings, and EZ Match prizes could be immediately claimed.
PIERRE — Landfills serving the southern counties of South Dakota received the green light Wednesday for state aid to help fight the Zika virus. The state Board of Water and Natural Resources released grants totaling $650,000 to be spent mostly on collecting used tires. The tropical mosquitoes that carry Zika virus like to lay their eggs in the standing water often found in old tires. The virus causes severe birth defects in children. Through Tuesday, there were 479 U.S. Zika cases.
PIERRE — The state Capitol's grounds will see several more statues of former governors this summer and eventually a new memorial for American Indian code-talkers who served the U.S. military during the two world wars. The latest additions to the Trail of Governors will be Mike Rounds, now a U.S. senator, Warren Green and Nils Boe.
PIERRE—This summer might be the final time Gov. Dennis Daugaard hosts a golf tournament for economic development prospects. That news came Tuesday from Pat Costello, commissioner for the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Costello told members of the state Board of Economic Development about the change. He said the focus in the years ahead would be on the annual buffalo roundup at Custer State Park and the governor's pheasant hunt based at Pierre. The golf gathering doesn't attract prospects to the same degree.
PIERRE—The legal status remains unclear for three measures that supporters hoped to get on South Dakota's general-election ballot this fall. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs plans to decide their fate soon, according to her spokesman, Jason Williams. Krebs earlier determined that one of the measures, seeking to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, lacked sufficient valid signatures. Its backers have challenged her ruling. Two other measures, both dealing with short-term lenders, have been challenged by each other's supporters.
PIERRE—Employers in South Dakota could save money in the years ahead, if the Legislature caps the state's unemployment insurance fund. State Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman opened discussions on the topic Monday with members of the state's Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council. The state's fund went broke during the 2008-2009 national recession and businesses paid surcharges. The fund finished 2015 with $99.5 million. Based on current circumstances, state Labor Department experts see the fund ending 2016 with $107.2 million.
PIERRE — May 23 might be the most important date on South Dakota's elections calendar this year. It is the final day to register to vote in the June 7 Democratic and Republican primary elections for legislative seats and courthouse positions. Primaries will decide the Democratic nominees for legislative seats in four districts and the Republican nominees for legislative seats in 22 contests in 17 districts. The primary elections already are under way. Absentee voting began April 22. The importance of June 7 is much greater in some parts of South Dakota.
PIERRE — The danger in Flint, Michigan, is leading toward many potential changes throughout the nation regarding lead and copper plumbing for drinking water, an official for the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Thursday. The difficulty in the current process is citizens conduct the complex testing and report the results, according to Mark Mayer, the administrator for the agency's drinking water program. He provided an overview for the state Water Management Board.