PIERRE — Public records are one place where the public comes up short in South Dakota. There was good intention, back in 2009, when the Legislature rewrote South Dakota's laws on public records. But laws can come with loopholes. We have some big loopholes. They must be closed. Here are specific examples: Public officials don't have to make public their official correspondence. They also don't have to make public their personal correspondence. These documents are among the many exceptions in the 2009 rewrite.
PIERRE — The two major-party candidates seeking election as South Dakota's next governor in November have different plans for their running mates. Michelle Lavallee would work full time as lieutenant governor and look for ways to improve state government if Democrat Billie Sutton wins. Larry Rhoden would focus on serving as Senate president during legislative sessions as a part-time No. 2 if Republican Kristi Noem is victorious.
PIERRE — The Dakota Range project that would turn wind into electricity 10 miles northeast of Watertown in Codington and Grant counties faces a final decision Tuesday from South Dakota regulators. The state Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a special meeting that starts at 1:30 p.m.at the Capitol. The commission held a hearing last month on the project. It would have up to 72 turbines and cost an estimated $380 million.
PIERRE — A change the Legislature made in 2017 will benefit many businesses for the second year in a row on their payments to South Dakota's unemployment insurance fund. Lawmakers reduced the tax rate by 0.10 percent in most brackets if a certain ratio reached 1.60 or more. A trust-fund balance of at least $110.4 million was needed on June 30 to trigger the reduction once again for calendar 2019. The balance was higher at $120.2 million, according to Mackenzie Decker, communications manager for the state Department of Labor and Regulation.
PIERRE — Black Hills Energy has proposed refunding more than $7.6 million to South Dakota customers this year and reducing rates $8.9 million for 2019 and each year after. The Rapid City-based utility declared its plan in a June 29 filing with the state Public Utilities Commission. The deadline for other parties to intervene is July 20. Black Hills Energy is among six companies the commission ordered in December to calculate effects from federal income-tax changes passed by Congress last year.
PIERRE — Every 10 years, the state Department of Transportation counts traffic volumes on more than 300 bridges that cross South Dakota's two interstate highways. The latest round of surveys starts this fall. Interchanges will be studied too. DOT staff members then assemble data in a report to be available in 2020. The report feeds decisions the department weighs as times change. A bridge necessary 40 years ago might now be questionable if traffic volume has fallen substantially. Or a bridge might need expansion to match traffic growth.
PIERRE — State government officials visit four cities in July to explain their construction proposals and listen to citizens about the 2019 plan for South Dakota highways, bridges and public transportation systems. There also will be on July 19 a statewide meeting via Internet where people anywhere can participate and give comments to state Department of Transportation staff about the plan.
PIERRE — The state Transportation Commission agreed Thursday guardrail upgrades are needed on two sets of bridges along US 85 in Lawrence County. Commissioners approved adding it at Polo Creek, one mile south of the US 85 junction with Interstate 90, and near Cheyenne Crossing, where US 85 crosses Spearfish Creek. Additional cost is estimated at $330,000, according to Mike Behm. He is planning and engineering director for the state Department of Transportation.
PIERRE — State regulators posted documents Monday for a $15.6 million bond from TransCanada on construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline through South Dakota. The state Public Utilities Commission required the bond as a condition of the construction permit granted in 2010 for the South Dakota segment of the project. "Even though construction is not scheduled to begin until 2019, Keystone seeks approval
PIERRE — Eight counties using electronic poll books had difficulties during June elections. Officials sent explanations or testified at the state Board of Elections meeting Monday. The Legislature authorized vote centers and e-poll books for school board elections in 2010 and later expanded to all elections. Here are excerpts from some of the letters defending vote centers where any registered voter in a county can cast a ballot. Maxine Fischer, Brown County auditor: "Granted, we had issues on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, but we did not have issues in 2014 or 2016.