PIERRE — When the Legislature five years ago established Building South Dakota, the economic development program gushed with cash. Much more, in fact, than could be spent for its intended uses. They included expansion of workforce housing; workforce education funding; local infrastructure improvements to assist projects; economic development partnership grants for non-profits and local governments; and business grants for projects costing less than $20 million.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Transportation Commission received a pleasing surprise Thursday on a culvert-cleaning project in Brown and Edmunds counties. "One bidder, and it's 25 percent low," remarked commission member Mike Vehle, of Mitchell. Subsurface Inc. of Moorhead, Minn., submitted the winning — and only — bid of $302,025.90. The work involves cleaning pipe culverts, joint repairs and filling voids on U.S. Highway 12, U.S. Highway 281 and South Dakota Highway 10. The estimated price was $404,636.65.
PIERRE — Another meeting on June 2 is needed before proceeding to a special session, the Legislature's task force on regulation of access to and use of non-meandered waters on public and private property decided Wednesday. "I think we should take a little more time," Sen. Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton, said. "If it takes another week or so, I'm sorry for that." Kennedy said he first saw the draft legislation Tuesday. So did Rep. Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown.
PIERRE — A state legislator who works for the accounting firm that audited Mid-Central Educational Cooperative during the past decade is praising the state government agency that stepped in to conduct a financial investigation. Rep. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland, said the private firm's 10 employees "have great confidence" in Auditor General Marty Guindon and his "incredible staff" at the South Dakota Department of Legislative Audit.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a 17 percent reduction Tuesday in the generation credit rate Black Hills Energy pays to small electricity producers. But commissioners also discussed setting separate credit rates for wind and solar in the near future. The decision to base the credits by sources would come no later than 2019. The commission requires that the Rapid City company report every two years, or sooner, on production from small generators.
PIERRE — The state Aeronautics Commission decided Tuesday that no decision was the best decision, at least for the time being, regarding South Dakota's first seaplane base. It is proposed at Lake Cochrane. Commissioners led by Arne Hauge, of Sioux Falls, and Skip VanDerhule, of Yankton, agreed they need some questions answered before they proceed to a vote. Jon Becker, from the state aeronautics office, acknowledged that no one asked the state Game, Fish & Parks Department for an opinion.
PIERRE — Financial investigators for the state Department of Legislative Audit discovered wide variances when they looked at the records of Mid-Central Educational Cooperative for fiscal 2015, according to a new report.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Railroad Board agreed Wednesday to put all of the state-owned railroads truly on the map, via a digital-data system. The board also reduced a $5.25 million loan with the Marshall County Railroad Authority by about $800,000. That savings replaces the approximately $1.6 million reduction the board previously approved for the loan. As for the mapping system, the board will pay $325,500, according to Jack Dokken, administrator for the state railroad office.
PIERRE – State government’s new panel that oversees teacher salaries in South Dakota’s public schools decided Tuesday to revisit one piece of a package of proposed rules. The School Finance Accountability Board met by teleconference, in response to action May 1 by the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee. That day, legislators, on a 3-2 vote, told the board to try again. The committee’s lawyers – Sen. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs; Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls; and Sen. Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton – want ‘appeal’ better defined.
PIERRE — The 2017 list of topics for legislative issue memorandums doubled, and then some, Monday. The Legislature's Executive Board approved seven. Dave Ortbahn began with a suggestion of three, based on his survey of Legislative Research Council staff. Ortbahn, the council's chief analyst for research and legal services, said they would get the seven done. "The goal would be to have something to you before the November e-board meeting," he told the board. The board approved the three he suggested: