PIERRE — In an opinion issued Sept. 20, 2017, the South Dakota Supreme Court handed citizens a significant victory. The justices, in a 4-1 decision, ruled the presumption of openness should prevail on public records. The Legislature, back in 2009, purposely placed the presumption of openness at the top of South Dakota's laws regarding public records. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader achieved this victory for the public. Its lawyer, Jon Arneson, deserves credit.
PIERRE — President Donald Trump's declaration that he's cutting off federal subsidies to health insurance providers participating in the Affordable Care Act program — aka Obamacare — means companies get a brief chance to re-file their rates for 2018. That's according to Larry Dieter. He is director for the South Dakota Division of Insurance. President Trump, a Republican, signed an executive order late Thursday eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance providers.
PIERRE — State government's Transportation Commission said no Thursday to all four bids received for replacing a box culvert on Cheyenne Creek in rural Potter County. Sharpe Enterprises Inc., of Fort Pierre, submitted the lowest one of $591,695.25. The state Department of Transportation's estimate was $458,854.50. The project seven miles northwest of Gettysburg would be offered again later this fall or winter, according to Mike Behm, the department's director of planning and engineering. "We feel we can make some changes," Behm said after the meeting.
PIERRE — Otter Tail Power Co. wants permission from South Dakota regulators to construct an electricity production plant in Deuel County. The 250-megawatt facility, known as Astoria Station, would be in Scandinavia Township on the north side of State Highway 28. The site is about 1.5 miles northwest of Astoria and about four miles east of Toronto. Natural gas from the Northern Border pipeline that runs through the company's recently acquired property would be used to generate the electricity.
PIERRE — State Rep. Mark Mickelson said Wednesday he is considering whether to ask the Legislature to repeal the Marsy's Law amendment that voters approved in 2016. They voted 215,565 to 146,084 to put victim rights in the South Dakota Constitution. Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, is speaker for the South Dakota House of Representatives. He said the constitutional amendment duplicated state laws in a variety of instances. "What we really need to do is fix Marsy's Law," he said Wednesday afternoon. He added: "This idea was brought to me. I didn't dream it up."
PIERRE — State government's Board of Nursing Facility Administrators received separate presentations Wednesday from two companies competing to run a licensing system on the Internet. They were ThoughtSpan Technology from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Albertson Consulting from Minot, North Dakota. Chairman Bob Stahl, of Pierre, told each presenter the board might want more information later. The system would allow online registrations and renewals. The office currently uses paper forms.
Leaders for state government's Board of Regents want an analysis of the increasing demand for funding of maintenance and repairs at South Dakota's public universities. The directive from board president Bob Sutton and vice president Kevin Schieffer came last week at the meeting at Dakota State University. During the gathering in Madison, regents approved moving ahead on new facilities or for purchasing or making renovations at existing ones.
PIERRE — Wednesday marked the tenth anniversary of the rodeo injury that put Billie Sutton in a wheelchair, maybe forever. What happened Oct. 4, 2007, changed every moment of life that followed. "I don't think I'd be running for governor," Sutton said Wednesday, "if I didn't have this injury." He was 23 years old then, "hovering" — as he put it — among the top 30 saddle-bronc riders in the world. Today Billie Sutton is a fourth-term state senator from Burke. He is the only Democratic candidate for governor in 2018.
In several cases Mid-Central Educational Cooperative in Platte operated federal programs under direct contracts with the U.S. Department of Education. But for Mid-Central's expenses managing the federal program known as GEAR UP, the cooperative relied on the South Dakota Department of Education for reimbursement. The state department drew upon a federal grant to do so. Mid Central in turn paid another nonprofit, called the American Indian Institute for Innovation, to help deliver GEAR UP services.
South Dakota lawmakers looking into how more than $1 million went missing from a Platte educational cooperative's bank account decided Friday they should seek public comments on their ideas for possible new laws. The Government Operations and Audit Committee listed five potential measures on the agenda Friday at bit.ly/2yLGLjC. Staff for the Legislative Research Council and the Department of Legislative Audit could add more in the coming weeks.