PIERRE — The South Dakota Railroad Board granted a six-month extension Wednesday for Dakota Southern Railway to continue leasing the state-owned line between Napa and Platte amid a dispute about who controls its future. The lease negotiations are mired in a feud over who has federal clearance to operate on the line. Declining to step aside is the Napa Platte Regional Railroad Authority that held the lease for about 35 years until the state board chose Dakota Southern instead.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Board of Economic Development approved four grants for local development purposes Tuesday. The Faulkton Area Economic Development Corp. receives a $384,000 grant from the local infrastructure improvement program; The Beadle and Spink Enterprise Community Inc. receives a $250,000 grant for use in its revolving loan fund from the economic development partnership program; The South Eastern Development Foundation receives a $250,000 grant for use in its revolving loan fund from the economic development partnership program; and
The Legislature's Executive Board selected on Monday a new member of the South Dakota Investment Council. He is Jeff Nelson of Wentworth. Nelson is the former chief officer for East River Electric Cooperative at Madison and was a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives in the 2014 elections. Nelson succeeds Jim Means of Yankton, a senior officer at First Dakota National Bank. Investment council members are allowed one five-year term and can't all be from the same political party.
PIERRE — Money flew like punches with fury in the final weeks of many campaigns leading to last Tuesday's party-primary elections across South Dakota. Maneuvers that attempted to deceive or make discovery difficult became commonly used, especially in some of the fierce Republican legislative primaries. Many candidates of both parties and supporters have turned South Dakota into a wild west of politics. Gradually we're making progress toward more transparency within the formal structure of state and local governments.
PIERRE — Five months before the November general elections, one fourth of the 105 seats in the Legislature have already been won. Eight candidates for Senate didn't have opponents. Three other candidates for Senate won primary elections Tuesday but don't have November opponents. In the House of Representatives, 11 candidates didn't have opponents. Five other candidates for House seats won primary elections Tuesday but don't have November opponents. Six current legislators lost in Tuesday's primary elections.
PIERRE—At least 16 of the state Senate's 35 seats will have new people in them for the 2017 legislative session. The chamber's Republican leadership could be in line for big changes, too. The relationship might be tested more often between many of the Republican senators and Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard during his final two years in the office.
PIERRE—Newcomer Neal Tapio and former Rep. Stace Nelson took the first steps in their quest to set a more conservative tone in the Legislature when they won Republican Senate nominations in South Dakota's primary elections Tuesday. Tapio defeated Rep. Roger Solum for the Republican nomination to the Watertown-area Senate seat. Solum's defeat means Codington County will have three new legislators come January after the retirements by Sen. Ried Holien and Rep. Lee Schoenbeck.
PIERRE—South Dakota customers of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. have been paying higher prices for natural gas and electricity since January of this year, while the company waited for state regulators to finish considering rate increases submitted last June. Now, customers will see refunds as credits on their bills in the next few months, as the results of the deals. The state Public Utilities Commission approved settlements Tuesday that let the company charge more but not as much as the company requested. PUC staff negotiated with the company on the compromises.
PIERRE—Video lottery terminals can be placed inside the vented smoke shacks that some bar owners have built onto their establishments, according to several Daugaard administration officials. An administrative policy now being followed by the South Dakota Lottery allows smoking at a video lottery establishment if it occurs in a non-enclosed area. South Dakota voters ratified a state law in 2010 that banned smoking in public places, including bars, restaurants and gambling establishments. But the lottery's policy rests in the law's definition of a public place.
PIERRE — A candidate seeking a Republican nomination to a legislative seat in the June 7 primary elections wrote a complaint to me a few days ago. He didn't like his treatment by South Dakota Right to Life. There was obvious reason for the treatment. He didn't answer the organization's questionnaire. Consequently he got a negative rating. More so, the organization spent money through its political action committee to pay for a mailing sent into his district. The mailing opposed him and supported his two Republican opponents.