PIERRE — South Dakota's new panel that is responsible for ensuring that school districts increase teacher salaries with the additional state aid they're receiving will hold a meeting next month about how the new process is to work. Members of the School Finance Accountability Board met by videoconference Friday. They discussed the draft version of the rules and several forms that schools will use when submitting information to the board. The Dec. 8 meeting will be a first reading of the proposed rules.
PIERRE—Trustees for the South Dakota Retirement System voted unanimously Thursday to reduce the annual cost of living allowance (COLA) to as little as 0.5 percent for retirees. The new approach calls for a range of 0.5 percent to as much as 3.5 percent, depending upon inflation and the retirement system's financial strength. The COLA measure that's been in place since 2010 provides a minimum 2.1 percent each year and a maximum 3.1 percent. The present approach is costing SDRS more than it can afford, according to actuaries. The larger raises snowball.
PIERRE — South Dakota's general election next week marks a turning point in the state's history. The term "inpa" becomes a must-know expression in our political language. Inpa is short for Independent/No Party Affiliation. South Dakota heads into the Nov. 8 election with record numbers of inpa and Republican registered voters. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said Tuesday there are 544,402 voters registered. They include 252,102 Republicans; 170,711 Democrats; 118,639 inpas; 1,619 Libertarians; 500 Constitution; and 831 others.
PIERRE — The three members of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission operate mostly in obscurity. That is, until someone wants to construct an oil pipeline or build a large wind farm or an investor-owned utility company wants to raise prices on customers.
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.