PIERRE — As registered voters who don't file as Republicans or Democrats rise in number in South Dakota, there are numerous candidates likewise running as independents for legislative seats and county elected offices this year. Unofficial tallies indicate there are 33 independents pursuing seats on county commissions, 10 running for state's attorneys, four wanting to be county treasurers and four seeking to be county coroners. Among legislative candidates, there are four independents running seats in the House of Representatives and three hoping to win Senate spots.
PIERRE—Minnehaha County didn't want to conform to the guidance set by the state Department of Transportation for South Dakota's new program of bridge improvement grants. So, Moody County got money instead. The state Transportation Commission approved more than $8 million of grants for bridge preservation and bridge replacement Thursday. The grants are the first made from a new program established in 2015 by the Legislature and additionally funded by the commission.
PIERRE—The period for slower speed limits during the Sturgis motorcycle rally is changing. And so are the places for those slower speeds. The state Transportation Commission unanimously approved the changes Thursday. Starting this summer, the slower speeds take effect for a shorter time. They start on the Thursday before the rally and continue through the last Sunday of the rally. "It's a rally speed zone, effectively," said Karla Engle, a lawyer for the state Department of Transportation.
PIERRE—While agreeing its criteria might be too loose, the state Public Utilities Commission relented Wednesday and voted 2-1 to let the South Dakota Rural Electric Association join a dispute over the power supplier for a new agricultural business. The case involves a request from Dakota Plains Ag Center to buy electricity from NorthWestern Energy for its railroad shipping facility in northern Yankton County.
VERMILLION — This semester some of the political science students at the University of South Dakota turned a classroom wall into a map tracking the complicated financial connections involved with the GEAR UP program. The map in Dakota Hall shows an outline of the state and key locations where major figures in GEAR UP lived and worked. Photos of major figures in the state investigation, and in turn people with financial ties to them, are spread across the map, along with summaries of information about their relationships.
SIOUX FALLS—A panel of university faculty members steeped in American history and politics spent more than an hour Saturday talking about the new biography of the late George McGovern. As a final point, they hypothesized about where he would have fit into this year's contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Several speakers said they thought McGovern would have backed U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, for a variety of reasons, rather than former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton.
OACOMA — The South Dakota Railroad Board recently began sending members to inspect track conditions along state-owned lines and checking on maintenance by private operators who hold rights to run on them. The board received its first informal report Wednesday about the Mitchell-Rapid City line, whose operator is Dakota Southern Railroad. The three members who conducted the tour — Harlan Quenzer, of Mitchell, Gary Doering, of Cavour and Jerry Cope, of Rapid City — said they found wide variances along the line on either side of Kimball.
OACOMA — South Dakota's efforts to revive traffic on state-owned railroad lines is gaining an important shipper in Yankton County. The state Railroad Board on Wednesday approved access for Dakota Plains Ag Service at Napa Junction. The state's Napa-Platte track intersects there with Burlington Northern Santa Fe track. Dakota Plains is building a circular siding complex to connect with both rail lines at the wye. It would be a new receiving and shipping point for agricultural producers in the area.
PIERRE—The South Dakota Banking Commission meets this week on an appeal from First State Bank of Roscoe to open a branch office in Eureka. Bret Afdahl, director for the state Division of Banking, denied the application on Dec. 23, 2015. He cited the "general character and fitness of the management and ownership" of the applicant. The bank's owner is John Beyers. The case is the first involving the "character and fitness" provision of state law.
PIERRE — The Legislature's Executive Board decided Monday the 2016 interim study topics should be nursing home and assisted living center capacity, Medicaid provider payments and early deterrence of drug abuse. Those three subjects topped the results from the survey sent to all 105 legislators. The legislators cast votes for up to five top picks from the menu of 16 topics. The House Commerce and Energy Committee suggested the nursing-beds and assisted living study. It received 119 points.