PIERRE — Just in time for Christmas, the Republicans who run our Congress and now our White House have delivered unto us what they consider a great present: The largest overhaul of federal taxes since the mid-1980s. Are those hooves of reindeer we hear, prancing on the rooftop? Here's comes Santa down the chimney, his bag full of gifts! Ho! Ho! Ho! We turn to each other in excitement as wrapping paper comes ripping off. What did you get? Is that a lump of coal — or a gift glittering in gold? Who knows — either might just be so.
PIERRE — A private railway that runs on state-owned track west from Mitchell gave a related company exclusive control last summer of a state-owned siding connected to the main line at Mitchell. However, no one told the South Dakota Railroad Board about the deal. The governor-appointed members are responsible for all state-owned rail lines in South Dakota. Dakota Southern Railway Co. signed away 1.4 miles of siding right to Brule Terminaling LLC for storing up to 100 railcars bearing liquid natural gas, also known as butane.
PIERRE — The state lawmaker from South Dakota who is president for the National Conference of State Legislatures helped arrange the special training session NCSL staff members will provide South Dakota legislators in January. "Truly the effort was collaborative," Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, said in an interview conducted this week, first in person and then via Twitter's message service. "I had the connections to help put the pieces together."
PIERRE — A contractor's bid that showed up blank wasn't submitted with four valid bids for a state highway project Thursday to the South Dakota Transportation Commission. Sam Weisgram, engineering manager for the state Department of Transportation, told commissioners an error wasn't found on the department's end of the electronic system. The department didn't receive an answer from the contractor regarding an offer to check the contractor's computer, Weisgram said. Weisgram didn't name the contractor.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Railroad Board chose Harlan Quenzer, of Mitchell, as its new chairman Wednesday. "Thank you, I think," Quenzer said after he was nominated. During the roll call to cast a unanimous ballot, he said, "I think I probably shouldn't vote on that." Jerry Cope, of Rapid City, was chosen as vice chairman. "I'll sit this out," Cope said during the roll call on his selection. Quenzer replaced Todd Yeaton, of Kimball, who resigned as chairman and left the board last month before his term ended.
PIERRE — South Dakota lodging businesses should be paid the same rates in 2018 as they have been since 2015 when state government employees stay overnight on official business, members of the state Board of Finance agreed Tuesday. State tax collections have come in lower than legislators and Gov. Dennis Daugaard expected in February when they agreed on a new budget that began July 1. The governor recommended zero increases next budget year in state aid to schools, most state employees and most healthcare providers.
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.