PIERRE — The husband and wife owners of several financially troubled grain businesses sued their son for fraud in federal court last month, three weeks before South Dakota regulators suspended the company's grain buying licenses. Duane and JoAnne Steffensen are owners and directors of H and I Grain of Hetland Inc. They held grain buyer licenses for businesses in Hetland, De Smet and Arlington. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission suspended the licenses June 23 because of specific acts indicating insolvency.
PIERRE — State government regulators suspended the grain-buyer licenses and ordered a financial audit for H & I Grain of Hetland. Citizens won't know, however, what the audit might have found. South Dakota law doesn't allow those reports to be revealed to the public. It would be a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, if that barrier is violated. The state Public Utilities Commission took the actions against H and I Grain at a special meeting June 23.
PIERRE — The two elected officials who comprise state government's Board of Appraisal set values Thursday for two pieces of property in western South Dakota that the Legislature agreed to put up for sale. State Auditor Steve Barnett and state School and Public Lands Commissioner Ryan Brunner accepted the third-party appraisals for two parcels of open land known as Echo Valley five miles south of Custer and for a Western Dakota Technical Institute building in Rapid City.
PIERRE — State government's Department of Transportation received approval recently for four public meetings and one webinar on its plans for highway projects in 2018 throughout South Dakota. The state Transportation Commission gave the green light last week to proceed with the meetings and webinar in the coming weeks. The Mitchell meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12, at the Ramada Inn. The commission will also host a 2:30 p.m. internet webinar on Thursday, July 20. To register for the internet presentation, send an email to Dave.Voeltz@State.SD.US .
PIERRE — The bridge improvement grants program approved by the Legislature in 2015 should bear its first fruits in the coming months. Structure replacements are proceeding this summer in Marshall and Roberts counties. The first completed could see a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by South Dakota Transportation Commission members. "It will be a trip up to the northeast corner of the state this fall," Doug Kinniburgh, engineering supervisor for local government aid in the state Department of Transportation, told commissioners last week.
With my news notebook in hand, I mingled through the crowd of South Dakota Republicans who generally were quite happy on election night in 1994. They gathered at the Sioux Falls convention hall to celebrate another victory by Bill Janklow. Janklow had just made the first, and only, comeback as governor in the history of South Dakota. Mark Meierhenry, the former state attorney general, confided that his friend and ally would make affordable housing a priority.
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.