PIERRE—Black Hills State University wants to offer South Dakota's first master degree in American Indian studies. The state Board of Regents will decide in the coming days whether Black Hills State can start to plan the program. The regents, who govern the state universities, meet Thursday and Friday in Rapid City at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Black Hills State is based in Spearfish and also manages the university center campus in Rapid City.
PIERRE—Nine years later, the state Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to restore some of the road money cut from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. GF&P received $2 million annually from DOT, prior to DOT's 2007 budget shortfall. GF&P's amount was slashed to $500,000. The decision now adds $500,000 back, so GF&P will see a total of $1 million. The additional aid could make some difference. The total budget for GF&P from all sources for the current 2016 fiscal year is nearly $83.6 million.
PIERRE—The state Transportation Commission decided Thursday to hold a field meeting this summer. The commission gathers in Deadwood on Aug. 24 for its monthly business and will tour the U.S. 85 reconstruction project that's underway. On Aug. 25, the commission will get together in Rapid City to look at some of the major projects under way, such as Silver Street and Rushmore Road. The commission's meetings normally are in Pierre.
PIERRE—The state Department of Transportation will open bids in June for cutting a rumble strip down the centerline of U.S. 12 between Ipswich and Aberdeen, with the work scheduled for completion yet this summer, a DOT official said Thursday. The 20-mile stretch of two-lane highway, from the four-lane west of Aberdeen to Ipswich, has seen a higher-than-normal number of crashes by vehicles crossing the centerline, according to Mike Behm. He is DOT's director of planning and engineering.
PIERRE—Pam Roberts of Pierre, a retired longtime leader in state government, will succeed Terry Baloun of Sioux Falls on the state Board of Regents. The regents govern South Dakota's state universities and special schools. Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced the Roberts appointment Wednesday afternoon. Baloun, a retired banker, is finishing his second six-year term on the board. Then-Gov. Mike Rounds appointed him in 2004. He is the board's secretary and is a past president.
PIERRE — The Legislature increased restrictions against abortions in South Dakota in the 2016 session. But the six measures that passed didn't receive public attention to the degree some other topics did, such as education funding and transgender bathroom restrictions. That partly reflects how strongly anti-abortion the Legislature has grown in the past few decades. One of the few abortion-rights supporters left, Sen. Angie Buhl O'Donnell, D-Sioux Falls, isn't seeking re-election.
PIERRE—South Dakota's auditor general released findings of widespread problems covering multiple years regarding GEAR UP and the four agencies responsible for managing the federally-funded program Monday evening. The state Department of Education should have been keeping better watch of the more than $3 million that flowed annually to Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, the report said. Mid-Central in turn sent large amounts of money to two nonprofit organizations, American Indian Institute for Innovation and Oceti Sakowin Education Consortium.
PIERRE — A deterrent stronger than a class 1 misdemeanor is needed in state conflict of interest cases, state Attorney General Marty Jackley says. Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, the state legislator who drafted the two most recent laws, says he's open to considering changes if the attorney general brings the request. Their differences in the matter also reflect another situation. Both men want to run for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.
PIERRE — Employment contracts in the GEAR UP corruption case show inconsistencies that investigators suggest were meant to mislead state auditors. The contracts were for Rick Melmer and Keith Moore. Three other employees at Mid-Central Educational Cooperative in Platte face state felony charges. Melmer and Moore don't. They are former top officials for the state Department of Education, the University of South Dakota and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education.
PIERRE—The state Board of Minerals and Environment increased the amounts of the public-protection bonds for two Black Hills gold mines Thursday. The post-closure bond for the Homestake mining complex rises to $41,979,523, an increase of about $1.2 million. A complete review of the Homestake bond amount is planned for next year, according to Eric Holm, a staff member for the state mining and minerals program. He said the amount likely would change. Mining stopped in 2001 at the Homestake site in and around Lead. Water treatment continues there.