PIERRE — Starting this fall, students at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology can seek a certificate in esports, the state Board of Regents decided Thursday. "It's kind of a unique program," Jay Perry, a regents assistant vice president for academic affairs, said about the new offering at the Rapid City campus. "There are professional ranks. It's on television." Mines President Jim Rankin said it's more than players competing at video games.
PIERRE — The panel that governs South Dakota's public universities heard a marketing pitch Wednesday about how to get more funding from the Legislature. Staff members from the Epicosity firm presented a $260,650 plan to the state Board of Regents. It included $118,000 for production, including $40,000 to build a website, and $142,650 to buy advertising from January through March during the 2019 legislative session. The current contract with the regents through Dec. 31 is for a maximum of $16,000 to develop a plan.
PIERRE — Two projects in the James River Valley that would convert wind to electricity moved forward Tuesday. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved a public liaison person for Crocker Wind Farm in Clark County. The project received the commission's OK earlier this summer. Meanwhile the commission Tuesday set a schedule in a separate docket on whether Prevailing Wind Park could build in Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Hutchinson counties.
PIERRE — State regulators decided Tuesday to seek receivership of a failed grain company and sell it to farmers, who then could make financial claims against a second company for millions of dollars the first company hasn't paid them. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission decided to take that complex route Tuesday. The three commissioners voted unanimously that their agency's lawyers should ask a state judge for permission to take over assets for H and I Grain of Hetland.
PIERRE — A public hearing on the state Department of Agriculture making direct loans to small or beginning farmers didn't draw any testimony Monday, but the agency received two letters from bankers expressing opposite views. The change would be an expansion. Currently the department participates in loans with a lender. Interim Secretary Dustin Oedekoven will decide later this month whether to adopt the rules. The department must receive written comments no later than Aug. 16. The Legislature's Rules Review Committee is scheduled to consider any changes Aug. 20.
PIERRE — Mark July 1, 2020, on your calendars as T Day in South Dakota. It's when South Dakota and six other states lose their "grandfathered" status on charging sales tax on Internet access charges. South Dakota state government would lose $12 million to $15 million of sales tax revenue. Municipal and tribal governments that levy a local sales tax would take a hit of $7 million to $10 million. Those amounts are in a memo delivered in late recently to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations from Tony Venhuizen, the governor's chief of staff.
PIERRE — Three railroads and two rail authorities asked a state government panel for support Wednesday as they seek federal aid to help rebuild routes in South Dakota. South Dakota Department of Transportation staff will spend the next two weeks looking through the requests and then make recommendations to the state Railroad Board. Board members will meet Aug. 15 to decide which projects to back, Chairman Harlan Quenzer, of Mitchell, said.
PIERRE — The Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee has formally set its expectations for improved performance at the University of South Dakota law school. The letter of intent the panel recently approved came just months after lawmakers channeled $300,000 of new funding into the law school and shifted another $300,000 that had been used in other ways at the Vermillion campus. Assistant Dean Eric Young and Liz Taggart, the law school's admissions director, met July 25 with appropriations members at the Capitol.
PIERRE — South Dakota's four technical institutes should request the governor's support for budget increases totaling nearly $5 million, the state Board of Technical Education unanimously decided Tuesday. The Legislature approved more than $27.9 million during the 2018 session for the campuses at Watertown, Mitchell, Rapid City and Sioux Falls in the budget year that started July 1.
PIERRE — Lawyers for more than 20 farmers in eastern South Dakota who lost millions of dollars for unpaid grain want a state agency to become receiver for the failed seller. The state Public Utilities Commission shut down H and I Grain of Hetland last year. Farmers from Kingsbury, Clark, Beadle, Brookings, Lake and Minnehaha counties see the agency as their way to get money from commodities company CHS Hedging. The commission could decide at its next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 7, whether to ask a state judge to designate the agency as the receiver.