PIERRE — State government's Arts Council approved touring grants for 23 groups and people Friday. The amounts for 2019-2020 totaled $149,000. The council's staff made some changes in their screening process this year. Several council members suggested additional improvements. Council member Linda Anderson, of Rapid City, said as an applicant, representing Black Hills Playhouse, she would have liked to know more about the formula staff used.
PIERRE — A South Dakota government panel reviewed its draft annual report Thursday showing substantial progress in shifting young offenders into alternate community programs rather than sending them away into state Department of Corrections custody. But Neil VonEschen, vice chairman of the Charles Mix County Commission, didn't see it the same way. He serves on the state's Juvenile Justice Oversight Council that is tracking the significant changes the Legislature made in 2015.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Supreme Court said Thursday that Christopher Martin knew he illegally possessed a controlled drug when a Rapid City police officer arrested Martin on Sept. 15, 2015 with 23 oxycodone pills in his pocket. The officer found an abandoned vehicle that Martin reported stolen. When Martin arrived at the vehicle's location, the officer arrested Martin on an outstanding warrant. During the arrest search, officer Eric Holmquist found the opioids as well as 10 $100 bills and a combination of smaller denominations.
PIERRE — Three lawmakers voted "no" Monday in a protest against how the GEAR UP scandal is handled in an annual report from the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. The nays came from Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton, of Burke, Republican Sen. Neal Tapio, of Watertown, and Democratic Rep. Susan Wismer, of Britton. They wanted a sentence stating South Dakota Department of Education leaders "disregarded" employees' warnings about alleged wrongdoing in the GEAR UP program.
PIERRE — State government's Department of Legislative Audit found six sets of problems in the Department of Revenue for the past budget year. Bob Christianson, a state government audit manager, delivered the report Monday to the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. Lawmakers on the panel decided they want a meeting Dec. 18 with Revenue Secretary Andy Gerlach. Gerlach previously agreed with all findings and submitted correction plans for each set.
PIERRE — Doug Sharp, of Watertown, made a suggestion a few days ago, during the meeting of state government's Council of Economic Advisors. The conversation had steered to what might cause a recession in South Dakota. Sharp, who's in the business of selling cars and trucks, wanted perspectives from others on the council about what they sense within their respective specialties. "We almost need to go by industry," Sharp said. "I'm just trying to figure out what's going to affect South Dakota."
PIERRE — Members of the Legislature's Workforce Housing Study met for the final time Thursday and agreed email would be how they choose sponsors of any legislation they'll recommend. They want the Legislature to shift more money into a state program for worker housing. But beyond that goal, their talk and ideas weren't so clear. Some wanted to more money to be available for job incentives, rather than letting Gov. Dennis Daugaard put all extra cash into reserve at the end of each budget year.
PIERRE — Video lottery, scratch tickets and lotto games are running ahead of last year's pace, top officials for the South Dakota Lottery said Thursday. State revenue is on track for $123 million. That would be about $4.6 million above last year. Norm Lingle, the lottery's executive director, described it as good news. Deputy director Clark Hepper said scratch tickets would finish at more than $5.8 million if they hold their current pace and lotto games would generate nearly $7.9 million.
PIERRE — State government's Transportation Commission reduced speed limits for motorists on highways in 15 South Dakota counties Thursday. In 12 counties the zones currently don't correspond to roadside signs, according to Karla Engle. She is a special assistant attorney general in the South Dakota Department of Transportation. She said department staff discovered the discrepancies during a review. In many of the instances, department officials want to adjust boundaries of the speed zones, rather than change locations for the signs, Engle said.
PIERRE — The state Department of Transportation added three tow-plows for this winter at Yankton, Rapid City and Custer. They make four for South Dakota. The first was already based at Sioux Falls last winter. Blade trucks pull the tow plows so two lanes can be cleared at the same time. That saves about $1.65 per mile. The expanded use represents one of the changes in the winter maintenance plan the state Transportation Commission adopted Thursday.