PIERRE — The Legislature has 80 Republicans and 25 Democrats. Who chooses to put their names on the line by the candidate-filing deadline of 5 p.m. on March 29 will determine what happens in the Capitol during the next two years and beyond. How those candidates fare in the June 7 primary elections and the Nov. 8 general elections, in turn, will largely determine how Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard fares in the final two years of his second and final term.
PIERRE — The state Public Utilities Commission gave its blessing Friday to an agreement for NorthWestern Energy to provide electricity to the pump station planned in rural Spink County for the proposed Dakota Access oil pipeline. The pump station is near Crandon, east of U.S. 281 and southeast of Redfield within the designated rural territory of Bath-based Northern Electric Cooperative. It will be on land sold to the pipeline company by Donald Gene and Rita Mary Massat.
PIERRE — The governor's proposal to increase the state sales and use tax to 4.5 percent carries both a clear truth and an unspoken admission. South Dakotans don't want to raise their property taxes much beyond the bare minimums, if at all. Rather than use the local opt-out that's been in place for 20 years, they widely believe state government should send more help to their public schools. That's the obvious truth. Here's the unspoken admission.
Here's are snapshots of five proposals to generate revenue or redirect existing funding to pay more to public K-12 schools in South Dakota to raise teacher salaries from last place nationally at just over $40,000 average last year. Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard: Wants to raise state sales and use tax rate to 4.5 percent from 4 percent. The estimated revenue is $107 million first year. Status: Currently up for debate in House of Representatives.
PIERRE—Sen. Troy Heinert didn't get what he sought Thursday. Heinert, D-Mission, wanted the Legislature to repeal a sweeping penalty that was put into state law last year. People who owe money to state government but won't pay can lose their driver licenses, vehicle registrations, hunting and fishing licenses, camping permits and park licenses. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 to kill his legislation, SB 123. The loss came when one of his co-sponsors, Sen. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre, turned into an opponent. But Heinert did get something of a promise.
PIERRE—South Dakota legislators and agricultural groups are splitting into sides again over county permits for concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs. The House Local Government Committee endorsed changes Thursday that supporters said would streamline permits and appeals. The panel's 11-2 vote sends the measure to the full House of Representatives for a vote possibly as early as Tuesday. Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, is prime sponsor for the legislation. He also sponsored legislation last year that changed laws regarding CAFOs.
PIERRE—State government's Internet and technology network suffered a full outage last weekend. The system went down for about 20 hours. The first trouble came about 9 a.m. Saturday with reports of intermittent problems such as slowness and unavailability. Within the hour, people using the Internet to visit state government websites arrived at blank page views. Businesses couldn't record motor vehicle sales for the state Revenue Department.
PIERRE—Legislation cleared its first hearing Wednesday to require public reporting of business conflicts by members of many state government boards, commissions and authorities, and by local education board members and officials across South Dakota. The proposal from Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, comes in the wake of the Mid-Central Education Cooperative audits and killings that occurred last year and the EB-5 immigrant investor scandal and suicide that happened in 2013 and 2014.
PIERRE—State lawmakers from both major political parties united Wednesday and rejected a resolution urging return of some lands in the Black Hills to Indian tribes who were forced onto reservations in the late 1800s. The House State Affairs Committee voted 13-0 against the request from Rep. Shawn Bordeaux, D-Mission, who said he serves on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe's treaty council. As he began to testify, Bordeaux said he didn't have a copy of his resolution.
PIERRE—South Dakotans could learn Wednesday whether Gov. Dennis Daugaard has the support necessary in the state House of Representatives to pass his proposal to increase the state sales and use tax by one-half of 1 percent. The measure requires a two-thirds majority of 47 ayes from the 70-member chamber. That means House Republican leader Brian Gosch, of Rapid City, needs at least 24 nays to block its passage.