PIERRE — South Dakota lawmakers raised their voices in song and bent their heads in prayer Tuesday at a Capitol memorial service for Rep. Craig Tieszen. Tieszen, R-Rapid City, and brother-in-law Brent Moline drowned Nov. 22 when their kayaks capsized in rough water off a South Pacific island. The ceremony occurred minutes before the governor's annual budget speech to a joint assembly of the Legislature in the House of Representatives chamber. His public memorial Monday at the Rapid City Civic Center drew an estimated 900 people.
PIERRE — The law firm for a company that wants to build a large wind-electricity project in Clark County now wants a waiver from state government regulators. Lawyer Kara Semmler previously worked for the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission as a staff attorney. She and Brett Koenecke now represent Crocker Wind Farm. The commission scheduled consideration of the waiver for Tuesday, Dec. 5. The project application was filed July 25. State law requires the commission to reach decision within six months.
PIERRE — South Dakota producers planted about 910,000 acres to winter wheat in fall 2016. That was down 23 percent from 2015. Even less appears to have been put in the ground this fall, members of state government's Wheat Commission said Monday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture mailed crop surveys to farmers last month. The South Dakota panel said producers have been increasingly shifting from winter wheat into somewhat more spring wheat but much more so into corn and soybeans.
PIERRE — Earlier in my news career, I tallied success rates for legislators on bills they sponsored. I stopped when some started padding numbers. But I went back the other morning to look at Craig Tieszen. His success was stunning — and on so many topics. Since 2015, he was a sponsor for 18 sets of state laws. They included slowing other vehicles during school-bus stops, disqualifying commercial drivers for refusing chemical analysis, regulating school-bus drivers on handheld wireless communication devices, beverage sampling and drone regulations.
PIERRE — Medicaid patients in South Dakota should receive fewer prescriptions for opioids, an advisory panel of medical doctors and pharmacists recommended Friday. Twenty-four people died from opioid involvement during 2015 in South Dakota. Opioids are painkillers such as fentanyl and oxycodone that can be addictive. Two state government agencies in South Dakota are using federal grants to develop anti-addiction strategies. A national commission on opioids abuse recently issued some four-dozen recommendations to President Trump.
PIERRE – Twenty years ago, South Dakota residents spent 15 cents of every dollar for health care. By 2016, they were spending 20 cents. That is a major shift in South Dakota’s economy. One result has been less and less tax revenue for state government and public schools. Here’s why: Medical services aren’t subject to sales tax in South Dakota. Gov. Dennis Daugaard plans to talk about that situation and a variety of others Tuesday, when he delivers the annual budget speech to the Legislature.
PIERRE — The city of Mitchell and the city of Beresford should receive money to improve their local infrastructures for businesses planning to expand, the grants panel for state government's Board of Economic Development recommended Wednesday. The full board would decide Dec. 12 whether to approve the grant recommendations. Mitchell seeks $200,000 for its project. Aaron Scheibe said he couldn't disclose yet the name of the manufacturing company Mitchell officials intend to help. Scheibe later confirmed the Mitchell company is Performance Pet Products, a pet-food maker.
PIERRE — Members of state government's Aeronautics Commission chose to wait rather than act Tuesday on improvements proposed for South Dakota public airports next year. They delayed the vote in case other cities submit plans by the Dec. 1 state deadline. The next meeting is Jan. 23. The 38 projects so far seek more than $19 million of federal grants, according to a preliminary list distributed to commissioners. The panel agreed however to spend up to $50,000 for South Dakota-specific pavement standards at general-aviation airports.
PIERRE — Members of South Dakota's School Finance Accountability Board gave final approval Monday on recommendations to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations for school districts that allegedly violated state teacher-pay law. School districts face the possible penalty of losing half of the additional funding they were supposed to receive under the 2016 teacher-pay package.
PIERRE — For two days last week, in a seldom-noticed legislative committee room, tucked at the rear of the upper-most floor of the Capitol annex, in a spot that some first-time visitors said they still had trouble finding, no matter a hand-written temporary sign directing them down a dead-end hall from the nearest elevator, one of three such devices that travel up and down hundreds of times most weekdays between the ground floor and nine different spots in the increasingly complicated sprawl that is the three upper floors, there in a two-door place, known by statehouse insiders simply