PIERRE — MidAmerican Energy won a favorable ruling from South Dakota regulators Tuesday for its wind turbines already spinning — but in Iowa. It means the company can pursue a second set of production tax credits from the federal government for up to 706 locations. The "re-powering" plan calls for MidAmerican Energy to invest more than $1.3 billion installing longer blades, new gearboxes and other equipment.
Last week marked retirement for Melody Schopp as South Dakota's secretary of education. She stepped aside Dec. 15 after seven years as state government's top public-school official. At the request of a reporter, she put together a daily diary marking her final week. Here are those thoughts:
PIERRE — The head of state government's Department of Transportation said Monday that Dakota Southern broke a federal regulation regarding hazardous materials when it stored rail cars on a siding. The South Dakota Railroad Board meets Wednesday to decide whether to take away the company's lease for the state-owned Mitchell-Rapid City line. Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist made the comments in testimony to the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee.
PIERRE — A state senator who is the only announced Democratic candidate for governor told a panel of South Dakota lawmakers Monday he would accept a compromise on how long state government records should be kept. South Dakota doesn't have a state law establishing a minimum period for retaining records. Instead state law designates a state board to set regulations. The Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee met a dead end this year as its staff searched for old records from the GEAR UP program.
PIERRE — Marcia Hultman said Monday she would provide data on South Dakota's Future Fund to a legislative panel. She is state secretary of labor and regulation. Her agency administers South Dakota's unemployment taxes and benefits. The Future Fund was created 30 years ago under then-Gov. George S. Mickelson by splitting away a portion of unemployment taxes that businesses pay. Every governor since then controlled the Future Fund for a variety of economic development purposes that were outside the Legislature's control.
PIERRE — The apparent defeat of Republican Roy Moore by Democrat Doug Jones for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama on Tuesday fueled a new hope for Democrats in many states, including South Dakota, about the 2018 elections. Alabama was even redder — more Republican — than South Dakota. The Jones victory raised energy for Democratic candidates. So a Democratic candidate could win a statewide office here next year. But there are differences. Three candidates seeking Republican nominations in South Dakota's primary elections next June are women.
PIERRE — The new coordinator for South Dakota's fight against aquatic invasive species laid out a 2018 work plan Friday that looks more aggressive than this year's version. Big-headed carp and zebra mussels are the priorities, Mike Greiner told members of the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission. One member, Mary Anne Boyd of Yankton, praised the presentation but said he should go farther. "I think we need to be aggressive as we can," Boyd said. She wondered whether boat and bait inspections should be "more than voluntary."
PIERRE — Kevin Robling presented a plan Friday that would triple the preference points accumulated by hunters who had applied unsuccessfully for South Dakota big-game or other special licenses or had purchased the points outright. He is special projects coordinator for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. His approach would statistically improve the chance of drawing a license as a hunter gathered more of the points.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission said yes Friday to the purchase of 174 acres of rural ground in Clark County. The state Wildlife Division plans to use $331,000 from a federal outdoors grant and buy the land from Warren and Valri Armbruster. The property, with habitat for pheasants and waterfowl, will become a state game production area, according to Paul Coughlin. He oversees property acquisitions for the Wildlife Division. The land is next to a waterfowl production area. Coughlin said the pending purchase was publicly advertised.
PIERRE — No structures have been touched and light snow might be on the way Saturday as nature helps crews deal with the Custer State Park fire that has spread to private lands, the head of South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks said Thursday. Kelly Hepler made his remarks to Game, Fish & Parks Commission members at the start of their meeting. The secretary said the fire burned through a major part of the buffalo range inside the park. He said the park staff doesn't want to be in competition with the private landowners who have lost hay too.