PIERRE — Back in 1989, the Legislature took up a measure intended to give counties more control over fireworks. Instead, legislators turned the bill on its head. The law they passed restricts counties from banning fireworks during the period immediately before July 4 unless fire conditions reach extreme. The law today is broader. It now extends the restriction on counties to the period just before New Year's Day. Here's the current version:
PIERRE — State government's Aeronautics Commission approved financial help Tuesday for nine public airports, including projects in Winner, Parkston and Gregory. The panel also gave a green light to South Dakota's first seaplane base. It will be on Lake Cochrane, south of Gary and east of Castlewood, off SD Highway 22 near the Minnesota border. The commission delayed the seaplane decision at its May 23 meeting to consult with the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. GFP operates a recreation area at Lake Cochrane.
PIERRE — Nearly a decade ago, economic recession forced South Dakota to get a federal loan to cover the hole in its trust fund for unemployment insurance. Now the system is upright again and employers can expect a tax cut. State government's Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council received a report Monday showing a $112.4 million balance at the end of calendar 2016. The projection is the fund will finish calendar 2017 with $122.1 million.
PIERRE — Before July 1 of last year, South Dakota's law on open meetings required only 24 hours of public notice. During the 2016 legislative session, Lee Schoenbeck changed it to two continuous days for state boards, commissions and departments. The Republican lawmaker from Watertown was a member in the state House of Representatives that session. He decided the time was right to give a hand to the newspaper association. The measure, HB 1066, won approval 66-0 in the House.
PIERRE — Black Hills State University officials want to honor two people of American Indian heritage, while University of South Dakota leaders seek to recognize a donor. State government's Board of Regents will consider the naming requests next week in Aberdeen. The three-day meeting at Northern State University starts Tuesday. The regents govern South Dakota's six public universities and three university centers. Black Hills State would change the name of its Center for American Indian Studies in Jonas Hall to the Jace DeCory Center for American Indian Studies.
PIERRE — Two candidates for state's attorney offices in Brule and Jerauld counties violated state law when they later filed as candidates for state's attorney offices in Lyman and Buffalo counties during the same 2016 election, the South Dakota Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday. The opinion written by Justice Janine Kern acknowledged the cases were moot. But, she said, a question of law needed the high court's answer: Whether state law prohibited the candidates from running for two state's attorney offices in two counties during the same general election.
PIERRE — People from a variety of backgrounds testified for three hours Wednesday, sometimes in conflicting detail, to the Legislature's task force studying possible changes to South Dakota's laws regarding ballot measures. At one point the chairwoman, Emily Wanless, of Sioux Falls, noted 10 states require constitutional amendments receive more than a 50 percent plus one majority for passage and Minnesota tallies unmarked measures as "no" votes.
PIERRE — The people participating on South Dakota's health care solutions coalition are trying to accomplish good. They are searching for ways to shift responsibility for the cost of health care. Ideally, the federal government would pay millions of dollars more for Indian health services. State government then could compensate Medicaid providers at higher rates. Would the citizens of our state see any relief? I wonder too about federal debt.
PIERRE — More than 160 people filled the Capitol rotunda Friday morning to witness the unveilings of four more bronze statues of governors from South Dakota's past. The additions of Tom Berry, Leslie Jensen, Sigurd Anderson and Joe Foss brought the list to 19 so far for Pierre's "Trail of Governors" project. The program, now in its sixth year, places life-sized statues of governors along sidewalks on the Capitol grounds and at locations in the downtown business district.
PIERRE — Two electricity companies that serve South Dakota customers won approval from state regulators Friday for energy-efficiency projects. The Public Utilities Commission gave Xcel Energy permission to charge special rates for LED street lighting. Xcel is converting to LED technology for streetlights and intends to offer the new rates in 32 communities in South Dakota served by the company.