PIERRE — Every so often the South Dakota Banking Commission finds itself in muddy waters. There was the 2010 decision in which the commissioners decided an offshore lender wasn't a bank. The matter involved a large loan to what then was Northern Beef Packers at Aberdeen. Unknown to the public at the time, the EB-5 program's management was headed into scandal land. We learned a lot about it three years later. We still don't know it all. This month the commission emerged from a different thicket, allowing First State Bank of Roscoe to open a branch in Eureka.
PIERRE — Township officers in 28 of South Dakota's 66 counties have completed inventories of their small bridges and culverts and the rest should be finished in the next month so a request for funding can be made to the state Transportation Commission, a spokesman said Thursday. Dick Howard, a former secretary of transportation who now represents towns and townships, said he's been working with state Department of Transportation staff as part of a task force on what could be done to assist the small local governments on their creek and river crossings.
PIERRE — The state Board of Water and Natural Resources made many millions of dollars of loans and a few grants Thursday for wastewater, drinking water and solid waste disposal projects for more than one dozen South Dakota communities. Mina Lake sanitary district gets a $559,000 loan for 30 years for its $579,000 expansion project including a new artificial wetland.
PIERRE — Four members on the state Board of Education filed waiver requests regarding South Dakota's new conflicts of interest law. They are Sue Aguilar, of Sioux Falls, Kelly Duncan, of Aberdeen, Glenna Fouberg, of Aberdeen and Don Kirkegaard, of Sturgis. A fifth member, Julie Mathiesen, of Sturgis, resigned this month because, she said in her letter to the governor, complying with the law would have been too complex. She is head of the Technology In Education organization that works with school districts throughout South Dakota.
PIERRE — The three elected members of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission took their fine-toothed comb to Otter Tail Power's electricity-efficiency program and liked what they found Tuesday. The state regulators praised Otter Tail for its 2015 results and voted 3-0 to accept the report. The company is based at Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and serves customers in parts of northeastern South Dakota. Commission chairman Chris Nelson asked questions about whether one business customer received too much benefit from the efficiency program's reimbursement system.
PIERRE — The new Board of Internal Control for state government met for its second time Tuesday as its members began putting steps in place for more transparency regarding grants and contracts. The new processes will focus first on federal grants that pass through state government and in many cases go next to grant sub-recipients or contractors. The state law approved earlier this year at the request of Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Lt. Gov. Matt Michels creating the board includes a requirement that grant agreements be publicly posted on state websites starting July 1.
PIERRE — Continuing our look into campaign finance loopholes that were used during South Dakota's primary elections for the Legislature, this week we'll consider un-sourced donations, independent expenditures, and partisan-financed independent candidates. The South Dakota Gun Owners political action committee, operated by Ray Lautenschlager of Rapid City, is an example regarding un-sourced donations.
PIERRE — Julie Mathiesen, of Sturgis, resigned from the state Board of Education (BOE) recently because of South Dakota's new law requiring disclosures of possible financial conflicts. The law applies to members of state boards and commissions and to people who work in leadership posts in public education. Mathiesen is the first state appointee to step down before the new law takes effect July 1. She is director for the Technology In Education organization that assists schools throughout South Dakota.
PIERRE — Secretary of State Shantel Krebs plans a review of South Dakota's campaign finance reporting laws, according to her office's spokesman. Jason Williams said she intends to convene a summer subcommittee with representatives from the Legislature, the state Board of Elections and the business community. Proposed changes will be presented at the October meeting of Board of Elections.
PIERRE—South Dakota needs criminal sanctions for people convicted of drug abuse who are caught using again during their probation and parole periods, several police chiefs told legislators Wednesday. The panel of lawmakers is studying methamphetamine and opioid use and looking for ways to steer students away from that path. Karl Jegeris, the Rapid City police chief, suggested tracking babies whose mothers are methamphetamine users. He also asked for a third party to conduct a survey of people who work in the criminal justice system.